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Accident reconstruction, black boxes help police understand crash

Traffic accidents can occur in the blink of an eye. The task of understanding how and why an accident occurred often requires the technical sophistication of forensic experts and event data recorders. This blog recently explained the techniques of accident reconstruction used by Virginia law enforcement officers, and the conclusion of a recent accident investigation provides a useful example of how the two techniques were used to understand the sequence of events in a deadly truck accident.

A tractor-trailer truck loaded with canned goods was southbound on I-77 when it crossed the median and struck an SUV. The big rig rolled over and quickly began to burn. The four people in the SUV, all members of the same family, were killed in the collision. The driver of the semi-trailer truck suffered multiple broken bones.

The accident investigation confirmed that the semi-truck crossed the median and was in the northbound lane when it struck the SUV. This conclusion was reinforced by information obtained from the event data recorders on both vehicles. After reviewing the results of the accident reconstruction investigation, police charged the driver of the big rig with negligent homicide, which is a misdemeanor.

The exact sequence of events is essential to determine who was liable for the accident. The decision to file criminal charges provides a strong inference that the big rig driver was at fault or that a defective part on the trailer-truck was responsible for the accident. Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in an accident that required a post-accident investigation to determine who was at fault may wish to consult a knowledgeable attorney for an evaluation of the facts of the case and an opinion on the likelihood of recovering damages from the negligent parties.

Source: Bluefield Daily Telegraph, "Truck driver charged with negligent homicide in wreck that killed family of 4," Samantha Perry, Oct. 19, 2017

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