Accident Damage Analysis Case Study

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Video Transcript

There are multiple different kinds of accident reconstructions that somebody can perform. One of those types, that's a subset of general accident reconstruction is what we call a damage analysis. And in these kinds of cases, we're trying to figure out whether or not the scenario being presented by the driver or a passenger or somebody is consistent with the facts. I was retained to come in, inspect the vehicle, go inspect the site and determine whether or not the scenario that was presented by the insured was actually consistent with the physical evidence that we saw. The insured stated that she's driving down this roadway in Detroit and that a pickup truck was driving at a high rate of speed in reverse toward her, impacted her vehicle, which then caused her to go over and land near a pole and the pole was knocked over.

We go and we inspect the incident locations in all of our cases. From the standpoint of I want to understand what the overall environment looks like, not only just looking at one little small aspect of it, but I want to understand the approaches in all directions. I went to where they said this happened and there was no evidence of any polls that had been knocked over any signs, anything in that particular case to validate the statements made by the insured. When I went and looked at the vehicle, there was damage to the front end of the vehicle, so the front end clearly hit something, but what the whole point of the case was, was the scenario that the hit, was it from another motor vehicle or was it from something else? So there was damage on the front end of the vehicle. Specifically the bumper cover.

The bumper bar, which is the metal component behind the bumper cover was dented as well as the hood and the grill above it. And the interesting thing is when we're looking at this particular kind of damage, I'm looking at the overall shape of this damage and the location and the shape of the damage indicated that it was consistent with impacting a narrow object. And as this narrow object had a very specific height to it as well because it had to go something from the ground all the way up to the hood because it contacted all of that component. So now I start looking at, okay, well what could that be from? Could that be from another motor vehicle? And in this particular case, the answer is no. And there's other reasons why that was true. Specifically underneath, there's what we call the engine cradle. It's the metal, basically the metal part that holds the engine in place.

There was scraping on that metal, and the only way that that damage could happen in this particular case is from impacting a curb. There was scraping on the aluminum wheel as well as the right front tire was punctured. And so the sum total of all that indicates to me that right front damage and the engine cradle damage was caused when the vehicle impacted a curb and went off of the roadway. So now what I'm looking at from the perspective is, okay, let's look at this front end damage. Well, what could that be from? Well, did it hit a utility pole? No, it's too small. Did it hit a light pole? No. Again, it's too small. So then I start looking at, well, what else is on the side of a road that somebody could run into that has a very narrow shape? Could it be a sign? So for example, a speed limit sign, right, which has a very narrow base on it, and then the sign's on top of it. It could be a stop sign, any sign like that. It doesn't matter specifically what the sign was, it's just a matter of is any of this damage consistent with contact from another motor vehicle? And the answer to that is no.

If you think about what's going to happen when you impact a sign like that, those things are not basically into the ground. They can break away. And so what happened in this particular case is that the vehicle goes off, the roadway hits the curb, mounts the curb, hits whatever the sign was, the sign breaks off goes rearward, and then the sign lands on the roof of the car. And the interesting thing about that is you can see that there's a rectangular scraping pattern on top of the vehicle consistent with some sort of rectangular sign. Then at the end of all this, there's damage to the right door. The thing about that damage is that damage is coming from the top towards the bottom. So in my analysis, what ended up happening was is that as a result, either the sign fell off the roof and landed and contacted the door on the way down, or somebody tried to pick it up and contacted it on the way down. But either way, all the damage could be explained as related to the incident.

This is a case where we found that all of the damage was consistent with a single vehicle loss of control event without contact with another motor vehicle. My job in these kind of cases is to determine whether or not the crash did occur or did not occur in the manner in which the person is claiming it occurred. I've done hundreds of these cases over my career. I mean more often than not, yeah, it did happen the way that they're saying it did. But then there are those cases that it did not happen, and I'm just here to evaluate what happened and how did that damage get on that vehicle. That's my job in this case.