Michigan Accident Reconstruction
Any time there is an accident that causes of the death of one of the participants, there will be an accident reconstruction of the scene. This will almost always be conducted by the Michigan State Police.
The Michigan State Police have been conducting accident reconstructions since the 1970’s. While these reconstructions can often times be used during a wrongful death action, the primary function of the Michigan State Police is to determine as best they can how the collision occurred. They use science to determine, best they can, exactly what happened during the accident.
While many wrongful death attorneys will hire their own private accident reconstruction teams, the Michigan State Police conduct investigations for several different reasons that can be helpful for your wrongful death claim. First, they will find out if there were any laws broken and then have the power to request that charges be authorized against the at-fault driver. As you can imagine, this certainly can help a wrongful death claim as a criminal act or violation of traffic laws can be used to establish negligence in the civil case.
The county prosecutors that must decide whether to authorize charges against drivers in wrongful death claims rely very heavily upon the Michigan State Police and their expert accident reconstruction troopers. Second, proper accident reconstruction can function as a preventative measure for future traffic fatalities. Their results can be reported to agencies in Michigan that are charged with maintaining safe highways. This is also an element of many wrongful death cases where victims can claim that there were defective highways that caused the death.
You might wonder why the local sheriff’s department or municipality is not conducting the accident reconstruction. The Michigan State Police participate within the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR), and they are the only law enforcement agency that is accredited so far. Therefore, you will almost always see the Michigan State Police involved, especially when there is a wrongful death caused on Michigan highways.
Another feature that is often overlooked is that Michigan State Police accident reconstruction experts are trained to provide testimony in court. This is primarily in the criminal context when there have been charges brought against a driver. However, Michigan wrongful death attorneys can use this testimony to build their case against a negligent driver. The Michigan State POlice officer can be called to the stand in the civil case and transcripts of testimony given in a criminal case can be very helpful in potential settlement negotiations even before a suit is filed.
Traffic Crash Reconstruction Technology
Private accident reconstruction firms have been using the latest technology for many years. The Michigan State Police have tried to keep up with private firms and are now using 3-D animation to present their findings to jury panels. Accident reconstruction, especially in wrongful death cases, can be very difficult to convey to a jury and the physics and science behind their findings can go well over the head of most juries, attorneys and judges.
New computer technology has allowed the reconstructionist to take court testimony one step further with the ability to create a 3-dimensional animation of the crash sequence. 3-D animation is nothing more than taking the completed reconstruction and transforming it into a moving picture.
The Michigan Department of State Police has been using 3-D animation in their investigations since 1995. Since MSP was the first law enforcement agency in Michigan to use computer animation in traffic crashes, certain precedents had to be established. The number one precedent was to get the animation itself admitted into court as evidence.
To get admitted, the reconstructionist not only has to be accepted as an expert in accident reconstruction, but also as an expert in computer animation. Once accepted as an expert witness, the reconstructionist has to explain the way in which the animation was created and how the scene evidence was incorporated into the animation. Everything seen in the animation has been calculated and documented by the reconstruction itself, then put into motion and placed onto a video tape for viewing. Various camera positions can be chosen to give a complete look at the dynamics of the crash.
Animations have been used for several years by private firms; however, the cost of creating animations is extremely expensive. The Michigan Department of State Police recognized a need for computer animation to assist our department with criminal investigations and to also assist other departments in their investigations at no charge. Having this technology available to all departments throughout the state gives smaller departments that could not possibly afford the software and training access to state-of-the-art technology.
If you and your family are the victims of another driver’s negligence that resulted in the death of another, you may need the services of an accident reconstruction expert. The attorneys at Ford & Murphy PC have the experience to review and if needed, hire experts that will testify on your behalf at trial.
Contact Ford & Murphy PC for your FREE Michigan Wrongful Death consultation. Call (269) 342-9900