Retracing the Steps: The Basics of Accident Reconstruction

Like many fatal collisions, last month’s pedestrian accident along Tampa’s scenic Bayshore Boulevard likely happened in the blink of an eye. In one moment, a young mother was legally crossing the road at an intersection, pushing her 21-month-old-daughter in a stroller. The next, a teenage driver changed everything when he raced down the road, reaching excessive speeds before he struck the mother and daughter, killing them both.

In this tragic case, it was clear from the start that speeding played a role. But in other accidents, it can be difficult to determine what happened. How do police officers, lawyers, and judges determine the causes of an accident? How do they know who is at fault?

Questions such as these can be answered through the process of accident reconstruction.

What is Accident Reconstruction?

Accident reconstruction is the process of investigating, analyzing, and drawing conclusions about the causes and events during a vehicle collision. Accident reconstruction experts essentially work backwards from the end scene to determine the causes of an accident. To do this, they consider evidence such as

  • Pictures of the damaged vehicles
  • Testimony for witnesses or people involved in the accident
  • Pictures of the accident scene
  • Videos of the accident, like those captured by nearby security cameras

What Do Accident Reconstructionists Do?

When looking at pictures or videos from a crash, an accident reconstructionist might be able to draw conclusions from things like:

  • Damage to the vehicles
  • The final positioning of the vehicles
  • Skid marks on the road
  • Damage to nearby objects, like guardrails
  • Injuries sustained during the crash

For example, if there are fresh skid marks, it might signify that one driver dramatically slowed their speed. Or if one vehicle has major damage to the front of the car, while the other car has damage to the side, it might be a sign that one vehicle ran through a light and t-boned the other. By looking at factors such as these, they can determine things like vehicle speed, the severity of the collision, the visibility of both drivers at the time of the accident, and the behavior of the drivers, like if they were texting or speeding.

In some cases, other evidence might play a role. In the aftermath of the accident on Bayshore Boulevard, for example, police were able to obtain electronic evidence from the car that caused the accident, including its “black box” which logs things like speed and velocity.

While some accidents have a clear cause, like a speeding driver, many others raise complex liability questions. Sometimes, both drivers might seem partially at-fault or witnesses reports might clash with the reports of the people involved in the accident. When this happens, accident reconstruction can play an important role in figuring out the missing pieces.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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