Accident Reconstruction and Collision Animation
LaMarca Law Group, P.C. has represented clients in all different types of collisions – tractor-trailer versus car, car versus bicycle, bus versus pedestrian, tractor-trailer versus pedestrian, and many more. In some collisions, it is obvious which party is at fault. When proving fault is complicated, we bring in the expert witnesses who can show the jury how the defendants acted recklessly and why our clients did not do anything wrong. Sometimes, the best expert witness is not a human being, but a highly-sophisticated computer program that creates a perfect reconstruction and animation of the incident that injured our client.
Any artist can “animate” a crash – using pencils and paper like an old Mickey Mouse cartoon, or with computers like a Hollywood movie. “Animation” is not the same thing as “reconstruction.”
We employ appropriately trained professionals who create precise collision reconstructions. This is not simply a drawing of what happened. Instead, the engineers or law enforcement personnel collect thousands of points of data at the scene of the collision to reconstruct what actually happened. These professionals do all of the following in appropriate cases:
- Record locations of vehicles and other objects
- Measure the dimensions of the roadway
- Record locations of buildings and other landscape features
- Collect data recorder and “black box” information from the vehicles involved
- Measure skid marks and gouge marks
- Record locations of blood
Sometimes, these measurements are taken by hand. Other times, they are taken with a device called a “total station,” which electronically measures and records the location of many objects at a location. The engineers also obtain information from a database of automobile measurements. One such database utilized by our expert witnesses has dozens of data points for each of 43,000 vehicles.
When the data is collected, it is entered into a proven reliable computer program that recreates the collision exactly as it happened. When sufficient foundational data is available, these programs are capable of calculating missing information – for example, the program can allow the expert witness to tell the jury “In order for the Defendant’s vehicle to end up in this location, it had to be going at least 20 miles per hour over the speed limit prior to the crash.”
These are just a few examples of animations that have been created for our cases.
In this case, our client was a tow-truck driver. He was called to assist the driver of a tractor-trailer with a broken axle. Our client was next to the disabled truck on the shoulder when another tractor-trailer swerved onto the shoulder and then back onto the road, causing his trailer to hit both our client and the driver of the disabled truck. We wanted a reconstruction in this case to explain to the jury how the trailer could hit the two men on the shoulder even though the driver had avoided hitting them with the tractor by swerving back onto the road.
LaMarca Law Group, P.C. has represented many people who were seriously injured after they were struck by DART buses in downtown Des Moines. One such case is animated above. Our client was standing, waiting at a “Don’t walk” signal, intending to cross the street. The bus was stopped at a red light at the same intersection, planning to turn left across our client’s path. The driver was not paying attention during a left turn and hit her. She was permanently disabled. The reconstruction showed that the bus driver had a clear view of our client at all times, and also showed that at a minimum he should have seen her after his windshield was cracked.
In this case, we represented a family whose car broke down on Interstate 80, and the driver was not able to get the car completely off the road before it came to a stop. The first tractor-trailer following our clients was following at a safe distance and was able to change lanes to avoid hitting the car, but a second tractor-trailer was following the first truck too close and was not paying attention to the road. When the first truck safely changed lanes, the second truck failed to avoid striking the clearly visible car ahead, causing serious injuries. This recreation shows both the overhead view and the view from the cab of the second truck.