When you file a claim over a car accident, the first question that everybody tries to answer is, "Who caused this accident to happen?"
The answer to that question is often not entirely clear. The reality is that accidents happen fast, memories are prone to error and even eye-witnesses may not really remember an event the way that it actually happened. Accident reconstruction experts take a lot of the "human" factor out of the equation and use science to show how and why an accident occurred.
In California, that can be a critical issue when it comes to determining how much you can actually recover for your injuries.
While laws vary from state to state, California uses the "pure" comparative negligence rule. Each party is only responsible for the percentage of damages that he or she caused. In practical terms, that means that if your damages were worth $100,000 and the court finds you 50 percent responsible for the accident, you can only collect 50 percent of the total damages, or $50,000.
That means that there is a lot invested in how much responsibility for the accident the jury ultimately assigns to you. It can easily end up being the most hotly contested part of any car accident lawsuit.
Accident reconstruction experts can often help clarify information for a jury and refute testimony that would seem to make you more responsible for the accident than you really are through the use of some basic techniques and an understanding of the physics and mechanics involved:
-- They look at known data, like the final resting position of each vehicle, what damage was done to each vehicle and where, as well as factors like the road conditions, time of day or night and the condition of streetlights in the area, if those are relevant.
-- They will look for other evidence that can be used to calculate out things like each vehicle's speed, attempts to brake and so on. That could include everything from traffic camera footage to the length and shape of skid marks on the road.
-- They work to put the information in an clear, understandable format for the jury to follow, and help take the emotional aspect out of a defense.
If your liability for an accident is being questioned by the opposing party, your attorney may suggest using an accident reconstruction expert to help resolve the issue.
Source: FindLaw, "California Negligence Laws," accessed Jan. 27, 2017