As a lawyer specializing in motorcycle injury cases in Southern California, I have had to collaborate closely with experts to reconstruct many motorcycle collision cases. Motorcycle accidents frequently occur in congested, urban areas such as busy intersections and highways. The ability to gather evidence from the scene and promptly analyze it can significantly and critically impact the overall outcome of the case, including the victim's ability to receive full compensation. In some instances, the lack of concrete proof can lead to a devaluation of the case.
The Fundamental Gathering of Evidence Subsequent to a Motorcycle Collision:
Evidence collected from the environment or scene of the collision: When processing environmental information, it is crucial to carefully examine and meticulously document the details of the accident scene within a short timeframe after the collision. This involves not only correctly identifying and describing the location of the crash but also the pre-crash path of all vehicles involved, including the motorcycle. Investigators must search for visibility obstructions, the estimated line-of-sight of all motor vehicle operators, any conspicuous marks such as tire skids indicating braking attempts by one or more vehicles, and notation of weather conditions such as a wet roadway, sun glare or other similar factors. Photographs and/or written diagrams of the accident scene are the best ways to document this evidence. These photos and drawings should cover the point of impact, where vehicles came to rest, and the surrounding areas leading up to the crash site.
Collecting Vehicular Evidence: When it comes to vehicular evidence, it is essential to closely examine and photograph all vehicles involved in the incident, including those that collided with the motorcycle or surrounding cars, for any conspicuous property damage. This includes dents, scrapes, scuffs, bent frames or forks (in the case of the motorcycle), rear-end or front-end damage, and side scraping that may indicate the bike "laying down" and traveling some distance, and other similar clues. Unfortunately, in automobile vs. motorcycle collisions, the car, truck or SUV involved can often drive away from the scene while the bike cannot. Thus, photographing motorcycle damage may be done at the accident scene, and other vehicles may need to be "tracked down" (e.g., homes, tow yards, body shops, etc.) and examined and photographed.
The importance of personal statements of those at the scene of the collision: Personal statements from the motorcycle rider and other drivers involved can provide crucial information and detailed insight about the point of impact and the circumstances leading up to the moment of the collision. Additionally, third-party witnesses who were not involved in the crash can offer even more comprehensive, less biased accounts of what transpired at the time of the collision. Although investigating traffic officers usually take statements from the involved parties and sometimes other witnesses, these statements are usually brief and summarized in the traffic collision report. Speaking directly with both parties and witnesses and obtaining more detailed information before they "disappear into the woodwork" can make a significant difference in obtaining proof of who caused the accident and who may be legally at fault.
Analyzing the Helmet and Protective Gear: The motorcycle helmet is not only the primary piece of safety equipment for the biker but also a valuable source of evidence for accident reconstruction and injury causation. Details about the punctures, scrapes, and cracks in the helmet can offer critical information about the point of impact on the rider's head and the objects that may have been struck (such as parts of the motorcycle, other vehicles, or the roadway). For instance, by analyzing the size, shape, and location of a crack in the helmet, one can make certain calculations about the pressure exerted. The helmet is key piece of evidence that should not be overlooked when reconstructing the details of a motorcycle collision.
Observing and analyzing accident scene data after the occurrence of the collision: In many cases, it is not possible to fully or comprehensively examine the accident scene on the day of the incident. Revisiting the scene at or near the time of the collision (for example, simulating Wednesday rush hour traffic in Los Angeles if the accident occurred during that time) can provide valuable information about the details surrounding the collision. Recreating the same environmental scenario will enable the ability to observe traffic levels, weather conditions, sun glare, obstructions, direction of travel, signal patterns, and other details, which can all significantly aid reconstructing the motorcycle impact.
Analyzing the Data guiding the Reconstruction of the Initial Motorcycle Collision
Reconstructing the cause of a motorcycle collision involves careful analysis of the evidence gathered by traffic officers and private investigators at the scene. Forensic engineers, who are experts in accident reconstruction, typically use this data to draw conclusions on causation. These conclusions are then presented to the "trier of fact" (e.g. judge or jury) to determine who is legally at fault for the incident and who is responsible for any resulting personal injury or property damage.
Traffic officers and private investigators can work together to gather evidence at the scene of a motorbike accident, but forensic engineers with expertise in accident reconstruction ultimately analyze the data to determine causation. Their expert opinions are used by judges or juries to determine legal fault and responsibility for personal injury or property damage. To arrive at these conclusions, the experts collect all available data and evidence, including the police report, medical reports, photographs and diagrams of the accident scene and property damage, and statements from parties and witnesses, both informal and formal through a deposition process.
The case experts also closely analyze traffic data and information about the location of the crash to determine factors like speed and location of impact, which are also relevant to the reconstruction of the collision. Evidence such as bent bike forks, dents on vehicles, skid marks, and the point of rest for the motorcycle are considered in conjunction with the biker's account and that of other drivers or witnesses. Mathematical modeling factors like vector components and the coefficient of friction for roadway surfaces are used to determine angles of impact, speed, and other important details.
It is highly recommended to seek the advice and assistance of a California law firm specializing in motorcycle accidents and injuries with experience in accident reconstruction. Our firm is well-equipped to represent your case to ensure that it is brought to an efficient and desirable resolution.