Most, if not all, media reports of automobile and motorcycle accidents state that the cause of the accident is “under investigation.” Rarely do media sources follow-up their report of the accident with a story about the probable causes, and police reports do not always contain a detailed analysis of vehicle speeds, crash-resistance and other factors that can lead to an explanation of why the accident happened. Many such cases require the services of an engineer or similarly trained person who specializes in reconstructing the sequence of events that led to the accident.
Accident reconstruction often works “backwards,” that is, the reconstruction specialist begins with the final positions of the motorcycle, other vehicles and the persons involved. Using data gathered from other accidents and engineering tests, the specialist asks five questions
- What did each driver perceive in the few seconds before the collision and what was the driver’s reaction? Many studies contain information about human reaction times, and this information is used by the specialist.
- Did any of the drivers attempt to avoid the collision by braking or steering? Physical evidence at the scene, including the vehicles themselves, can help answer this question.
- Did any of the vehicles slide before the impact? The length and direction of skid marks is used to answer this question.
- How fast was each vehicle traveling at the moment of impact? Impact damage is often combined with sliding distance to determine the vehicle’s speed.
- How far and in what directions did the vehicles and persons travel after impact? In motorcycle accidents, the driver is typically thrown from the bike, and the distance and direction of the driver’s post-impact motion can provide additional clues to vehicle speed.
Reconstructing motorcycle collisions is more difficult than reconstructing automobile accidents because the data about such accidents is far less plentiful than similar data about automobile accidents.
Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident may want to consult with a lawyer who specializes in handling such cases. Many such lawyers regularly employ accident reconstruction specialists who can provide a detailed description of the accident. These reconstructions allow the attorney to provide a useful analysis of the case and an estimate of the probability of recovering damages from the responsible parties.
Source: Veritech Consulting Engineering, LLC, “Introduction to Motorcycle Accident Reconstruction,” Mark Kittel, June 11, 2015, accessed on Aug. 1, 2015