There are several reasons engineering and accident reconstruction reports are problematic. Let’s address the biggest and first issue, cost. Many attorneys won’t realize the real value of cases if they deal with doctors who do not know how to document the patient’s injuries correctly, leading to issues related to poor documentation management.
This is a massive benefit to the insurance company who have banked on the sloppiness and ignorance of the entire medical-legal community. However, there is a growing number of doctors and attorneys who do know.
In this sense, the insurance carrier knows they’ll pay, a vast majority of this time, a minimum amount for a collision even if the case needs to have a much greater value due to the nature of the injuries. The insurance companies know this for a number of reasons, but the biggest reason is cost, not for them but you.
Accident Reports and Insurance Companies
For the sake of discussion let’s say the average case settles for $15,000. If the collision specialist costs $2,000 to $5,000 (along with the doctors and the other experts), this is an expense which cannot or chooses not to be absorbed by solo attorney’s, smaller and even bigger legal firms. This is known by the insurance company and use it whenever it presents itself.
Why can a “deep pocketed” insurance company afford to pay a specialist on a smaller case? There are few reasons but the two are the insurance companies can absorb the expense of the consultants AND a smaller instances will perform the work, as good faith towards the client, pro bono, in some cases.
Obviously, if the attorney cannot make any money they will not take the situation and paying for a collision professional is a substantial factor in this decision, especially if the defense already has you. This greatly reduces the attorney’s costs per case while making you more valuable as a resource AND affords the attorney the chance to take on cases.
The cost concerns cause a second problem, identifying inaccuracies. I have yet to meet an crash engineering defense pro who will explain the shortfall of a case because it is going to expose their inaccuracies and will not bode well for them regarding referrals. MANY low speed collisions have gaps which must be filled in with information that is vetted and carefully selected. Using generalized data (that is the standard in the industry to work with) is quite dangerous as it makes the difference for results reliability too wide. The results will have margin for error and that margin of error is the difference between being or prevailing on the side and all accepted as accurate, but is not.
In this section we discuss why time is a critical element. In the picture above, we illustrate a train, which collides with a barrier at 100 miles per hour and crushes. The related math demonstrates how increasing the time decreases acceleration (see circled numbers). There is not any room for doubt regarding injury as its speed and acceleration is beyond accepted thresholds. What if the speeds change so they are very close to those injury thresholds?
Consider the second example, here the speed of the train represents final approach to a stop hurdle in which the engineer is a little careless and bumps the cease hurdle. What’s important to notice about this visual is the moment. If we double the time (from .05 to .1) the last g force is halved (resulting in 2.267 g’s). What if there were studies that we could cite which say the time necessary to stop for a train is .075 seconds? The first time value of .05 would be too brief, the second value of .1 would be too big, and both do not fit the cited studies.
In this case the period variable changes a tiny amount but the resulting change in the g forces may no longer be sufficient to substantiate a claim for injury. This is the reason the justification for any values is so significant. If you don’t understand they were selected and why the variables are there, they you do not know if they’re accurate or not. A deviation is often the arbiter in determining if there were sufficient transference of forces needed for 27, in a case for failure or success.
Cost and inaccuracies are a couple of the problems commonly faced by attorneys regarding collision reconstruction. For doctors, there’s now a recognized course to offer you the training to be an collision engineer/reconstructionist and for the attorney, when there is a defense engineer, you should have someone dissecting the math to ensure accuracy because usually the “guestimates” used will work against you in settlement or litigation.
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