Automotive Accident Reconstruction

Principia’s engineering staff have investigated over 1000 transportation accidents covering the complete range of accident types. The breadth of technical backgrounds at Principia allows us to provide our clients with the full spectrum of accident reconstruction services. This includes inspection of the accident site and vehicles, reconstruction of the accident events, biomechanical analysis of occupant motion, and determination of injury mechanisms.

Our services include:

  • Scene Inspections
  • Vehicle Inspections
  • Vehicle Speed Estimates
  • Driver Perception and Reaction Issues
  • Occupant Motions (Kinematics)
  • Biomechanics of Injury Mechanisms
  • Failure Analysis of Vehicle Components
  • Automobile Black Box Data Retrieval

Principia’s staff has provided these services for a wide variety of vehicle accidents. This experience allows us to provide the highest quality service for all types of accidents.

Some common types of vehicle accidents our staff consults on include:

  • Multi-Vehicle Accidents
  • Heavy Truck Accidents
  • Vehicle Rollovers
  • Single Vehicle Loss of Control
  • Low Speed Impacts and Sideswipe Collisions
  • Industrial Vehicle Accidents
  • Vehicle Component Defects
  • Vehicle Component Failures

Our consulting staff is experienced in using the latest computer technology for accident reconstruction. Computer aided design tools are used to develop scale drawings of accident scenes and vehicle locations at various stages of the accident. Photo editing software is also available to analyze photographs to determine unknown locations or dimensions (photogrammetry). For cases that are extremely complex or require visualization of the vehicle motion, advanced accident reconstruction software is used to predict the vehicle motion and create video of the accident sequence.

Automobile Black Box Data Retrieval

The black box is a computer that records data which can help determine precisely what happened in a motor vehicle accident. It records technical vehicle and occupant information for a brief period of time (seconds, not minutes) before, during and after a crash. For instance, Event Data Recorders (EDRs) may record (1) pre-crash vehicle motion and system status, (2) driver inputs, (3) vehicle crash motion, (4) restraint usage and airbag deployment status, and (5) post-crash data such as the activation of an automatic collision notification system. Of particular use for the accident reconstructionist is the vehicle’s motion data during the time period just prior to a crash event and during the collision.

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Examples

Vehicle Heavy Truck Accident

This incident involved a roofing truck that rolled almost a quarter mile down a steep hill. The driver in the truck claimed that the air brakes on the vehicle did not function. At the bottom of the hill the road ended at a grocery store parking lot.
At this location the truck hit a small SUV turning left into the parking lot, killing a young boy sitting in the rear passenger seat. The roofing truck pushed the SUV into the parking lot, hitting seven additional vehicles.
Principia simulated this accident and determined that the impact speed of the truck was 40 mph, and that if the driver completely failed to apply the brakes during the descent the truck would have been traveling at 56 mph at impact. The results of our work were critical in the favorable verdict for the driver.

Car Accident

This incident involved a three vehicle accident where a minivan turned left through a red light. A white pickup truck in the number one (left) lane could not stop in time and collided with the passenger side of the minivan. Our client’s insured was traveling in a green SUV in the number two lane behind the white pickup truck. The SUV driver swerved to the left and impacted the rear of the white pickup truck. The driver of the pickup truck filed suit against the driver of the green SUV.
Principia simulated the accident and matched the available physical evidence. We then showed that if the driver of the green SUV had not swerved to the left the SUV would have collided with the driver’s side of the minivan instead of contacting the rear of the white pickup. The simulation results clearly showed that either action by the SUV driver would have resulted in a collision.