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Determining vehicle speed with accident reconstruction

One goal that an accident reconstruction team has is to decide if the law was broken by one driver -- or both -- to help determine fault. This may not be clear in all cases, such as when it is suggested that the driver was speeding but he or she insists that the speed limit was never broken.

The reconstruction team will then try to break the accident down into segments, looking at each part individually to decide how much speed was lost before the vehicle stopped entirely. Things they look at include:

-- Direction of travel, both before and after the crash.-- How far the vehicles moved after colliding.-- The length of any skid marks.-- The friction values held by every surface.-- The vehicles' weights.

For example, the team may decide that the damage to the car indicates it was going 30 miles per hour at the time of the crash, as it traveled through a 35 MPH zone. That would suggest that the driver wasn't speeding.

However, they may then measure the skid marks left as the driver tried to brake and avoid the crash, and they may determine that the car lost 15 MPH while skidding. Since it was still going 30 when the accident happened, that suggests the driver was going about 45 MPH in the 35 MPH zone.

The results of an investigation can have a big impact on your ability to seek compensation for your injuries. If the investigation shows that the other driver broke the law, you may then be able to argue that he or she caused the crash, through negligence or reckless action, and is therefore liable for the damages.

Source: Crash Forensics, "Motor Vehicle Crash Investigation and Reconstruction," John C. Glennon, Jr, accessed Jan. 13, 2017

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