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HELP! If YOU or someone you know has been in a crash!

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 1:32 pm
by brian
IF YOU or someone you know has been involved in an crash aka accident and need HELP!

In many cases over the years we have assisted individuals involved in crashes/accidents to help them sort out the facts and circumstances of the accident/collision.
The initial and main assistance is to instruct them to try to accumulate all the information on the accident including police reports, measurements, photographs, witness statements, etc. This is extremely important!
The field of accident/collision reconstruction includes specialized applications of the fundamental laws of physics which require information/evidence about the collision;
  • tire marks,
  • damage to the vehicles,
  • scene information, etc.
Please read our general introduction With this information any competent accident/collision reconstructionist should be able to perform a preliminary evaluation to ascertain initial impressions and some form of preliminary opinions.
Questions like:
  • What happened?
  • What were the approximate speeds?
  • What were the circumstances which led to the collision/accident?
  • Was the accident avoidable?
  • Who caused the accident?
Some of these questions can be answered quickly, others may take time to fully investigate and draw proper conclusions.
You also try to photograph the damage to each vehicles and the overall scene location in the event police do not take photographs or do not take adequate photographs.
Here is a quick list of things to photograph or have photographed:
  • VEHICLE: The overall vehicles (BOTH if possible) from all directions to show vehicle condition and damage
    • Take these 8 photos of both vehicle if possible and then
      • any closeups you decide to take
      • IMPORTANT: be sure to also take additional photos backed away from your closeups so anyone can determine what item is in the closeup and where it is located.
      8 locations for pictures of damaged vehicle.2jpg.jpg
      8 locations for pictures of damaged vehicle.2jpg.jpg (23.23 KiB) Viewed 1951 times
  • SCENE: The rest positions of each vehicle. be sure to think of the clock pictured above and also try to include BOTH vehicles in some pictures (so relative locations can be determined). There are techniques to determine the positions of vehicles from photographs (photogrammetry) in the event the relative positions are not measured.
    Views from the overall direction of travel for each vehicle (pretend you are the driver what would you see prior to the collision?)
    • You should then back up at 25, 50, 100 foot distance to show the view for each driver approaching the location of the crash
      • obviously from shoulder if busy road. SAFETY FIRST!
      Road signage and general overall views at the time of the crash are important.
      if any indication of the vehicle out of control at the crash be sure to also include areas offroad preceding the crash
    Take photos of everything since a common mistake is to take too few photographs or closeup photograph of items at unknown locations.
    If you zoom in, zoom out and walk back and take another couple photographs of marks, gouges, skids, debris, etc

When we assist people involved in collisions, we try to emphasize that the police and insurance companies are not their enemy! Many people involved in collisions come to us with blood in their eye because they think that the police/prosecutor/insurance companies “are out to get them”!).
That is not the case in most circumstances.
  • With an informal initial impression and preliminary opinion from a qualified expert in accident reconstructionI a subsequent discussion with the police or insurance investigator about the particulars of the accident/collision may resolve things (Over the years it has happened on many occasions). Particularly if it is something perhaps the police or insurance adjuster have overlooked and/or misinterpreted. That is how we as accident/collision investigators and reconstructionists are supposed to do our job!
    Many, if not all, of the 'pro bono' cases we have done have been resolved without our having to travel or incur expenses except for spending a little of our time assisting those involved in an accident with understanding the circumstances of the accident.
    Sometimes we write a report/affidavit to assist them in their defense. Sometimes we have suggested that they use the information we have provided to them and contact a local expert for additional assistance.

We have often thought about forming some form of an ‘Innocence Project’ type association to be used to assist folks ‘before the verdict’ (since the current ‘Innocence Project' is for folks already convicted). We just haven’t found the time and/or funds to move forward on that idea.
  • The average person involved in a collision/accident does not have adequate resources or experience as compared to police/prosecutors offices and/or insurance companies. It takes considerable effort to sift through all the information and evidence in accidents/collisions. The creation of a 3rd party objective panel to review the evidence and police work 'before the verdict' would be justified and beneficial to avoid unwarranted prosecution and/or denial of claims. I believe in Europe this is how cases are handled. The Judge hires two independent accident reconstructionists/investigators. They come to conclusions. If they agree. case closed. If not, a 3rd party is brought in to settle the dispute.

    If YOU have been in an collision/accident and need assistance, please email us at or contact someone in your area who does collision reconstruction. Be prepared with the circumstances of your situation including the police report, if possible, and perhaps you can get some needed assistance.
Contact information is:

Re: HELP! If YOU or someone you know has been in a crash!

Posted: Fri Apr 02, 2010 4:14 am
by Steve Stockinger
New here and seeing stuff for the first time.
This is pretty good stuff.
Steve Stockinger
retired detective

Re: HELP! If YOU or someone you know has been in a crash!

Posted: Thu Mar 05, 2020 2:51 pm
by MSI
In another forum someone posted up a topic entitled "desperate for answers" which included a very long description of a crash and asked the question:
    • The desperate for answers author also relayed that:
      • The police used pc crash which they said was PROOF that their daughter was coming from the right, from her lane...very slowly...
      • A second expert was hired who made a little video [impact to rest only) from pc-crash which was the same scenario as police
      • The 2nd expert never tested their daughter's version of the crash with pc-crash or other means...
      • They later found out that the 2nd expert was the regular expert from the assurance company
        In summary neither the police or the 2 experts ever tried any alternate theories of how/why the crash happened
Jul2020: We've moved our response previously posted here to a separate topic in the forum CRASH & Damage/Momentum Analysis[/i][/b]
And we added these introductory sentences:
  • This topic/response was prepared to assist anyone in event a police department or expert has used and presented PC-CRASH (or other simulation program) as PROOF of a theory...PC-CRASH is a very widely used software product however we have found that it can be easy to manipulate the results sometimes to support a preconceived opinion. Any PC-CRASH (or other simulation program) PROOF (and videos created as a result) need to be carefully examined as they might be a smokescreen.
  • All crash reconstruction and simulation software products are interesting and useful products however as with ANY product users must exercise caution when using and be sure to check the veracity of any results.
  • We always recommend that crash reconstruction simulation software be used to test and refine opinions which also sometimes means testing alternate theories.

Re: HELP! If YOU or someone you know has been in a crash!

Posted: Sat May 09, 2020 2:31 pm
by MSI
updated first part with tips for taking photographs of crash vehicles and scene

Re: HELP! If YOU or someone you know has been in a crash!

Posted: Wed Aug 12, 2020 6:17 pm
by MSI
Just made aware of a similar page from our Canadian neighbors:
From the MEA Forensic website: Collision reconstruction:
A good checklist to consider if you or someone you know has been in a crash:
  • General Collision Information
    • Where and when (date, time) did the collision occur? How many vehicles were involved? What directions and in what lanes were the vehicles traveling before impact? Where did impact occur? How did the vehicles collide?
    Vehicle Information
    • What is the year, make, model and configuration (2 door, hatchback, etc.) of your vehicle? Was your vehicle operating properly? Was it stock or modified? How was it modified? When was it last serviced? What was repaired? Describe any preexisting damage or ask for photographs.
    Occupants and Cargo
    • How many occupants were in your car? Who were they and where were they seated? How much did each occupant weigh? Was there cargo in your vehicle? How much did it weigh and where was it located?
    Pre-Impact Conditions
    • How fast were you traveling at impact? How fast were the other vehicles traveling? What is the speed limit? What was the other vehicle doing before the collision (turning, accelerating, etc.)? Were you confused by its actions?
    Pre-Impact Reactions
    • Did you react before impact? Describe your reaction (brake/steer). How far before impact did you brake/ steer? Which direction did you steer? Did you leave skid marks on the road before impact? How long were the skid marks?
    Post-Impact Motion
    • Describe what happened to your vehicle after impact. Did your vehicle spin? Did you hit another vehicle or roadside object? Were there marks on the road after impact?
    Vehicle Rest Positions
    • Where did your vehicle come to rest? What direction was it facing? Describe or sketch the location and orientation of each vehicle at rest. Were any vehicles moved after they first came to rest? Were any of the tires fl at or damaged?
    • What were the weather conditions? Was the road surface dry/wet/snowy/icy? Was it light/twilight/ dark? Were your headlights or windshield wipers on?
    Contributing Factors
    • Describe any factors you believe contributed to the collision. Explore each factor in detail. Consider sight obstructions, road design, glare sources, illumination levels, distractions inside the vehicle (children, pets, phones, other electronic devices, etc.) and distractions outside the vehicle (another collision, animals, etc.).
    Miscellaneous Information
    • Do you have any photographs of the scene or vehicles? Do you know of any witnesses? Did you provide a statement to anyone? If so, to whom?
    Key Sources of Evidence
    1. Examination of the vehicles and scene soon after the collision.
    2. Police photographs, measurements, scene drawings/sketches and investigation reports.
    3. Repair estimates and vehicle damage photographs from insurance companies or repair shops.
    4. Witness statements, sketches and photographs.
    5. Specialized reports from a mechanic, road design engineer, weather office, etc.
MEA also have a PDF of this information that you can download: