Rolin's Blog

Be it interesting case updates or common questions, please feel free to read Rolin's thoughts below!

Is The Evidence Wrong?

October 24, 2023

In our increasingly electronic world, data is recorded about events great and small. In vehicles, data collected during a crash has been available to accident reconstructionists for about 30 years. While the sophistication and volume of the data has improved, the data alone might not answer all the questions. The electronically recorded data should be compared with the traditionally gathered data and, most importantly, evaluated with common sense. One evening, in an urban area, a car struck a pedestrian. I downloaded the car’s electronic data. Both the attorney representing the claimant pedestrian and the insurance adjuster for the driver understood the value of the data and expressed strong interest in it. It was desired for speed and brake usage during the five seconds before

the pedestrian was struck.

Other data in the download was perhaps outwardly less exciting, but it would change the value of the data in the table above.

This data read that the car had been struck from the rear. Scratches on the car’s hood had been created by features of the pedestrian’s clothing and items they were carrying when struck by the car. This data was from a previous, unrelated minor crash. Based on the data and the driver’s frequency of using the car, I estimated that the recorded crash had occurred about 8 months prior, and this was later confirmed. The evidence was not wrong, but it was information about a different crash. I have been downloading electronic data from cars for about 18 years and working as an accident reconstructionist engineer for over 37 years. In my experience, automatically recorded crash data is present in almost all vehicle-vehicle events, but only about half of vehicle-pedestrian collisions. Evidence is good, but so is common sense.


September 14, 2023

Regardless of whether I am reconstructing a crash, evaluating a fire, or analyzing any of myriad other accidents or incidents, one of the most important roles I perform for clients is giving them an honest assessment of the evidence. If the evidence supports your theory, that will be helpful as you proceed with your case. If “the evidence is against you,” it will save you time, cost, and energy, to know it sooner rather than later. A crash that occurred one evening is a

classic example. A minivan and a car collided “head-on” on a two-lane road. After colliding, each vehicle came to rest at the outside edge of their respective lanes. Each driver believed that the collision had occurred in their lane of travel. I was hired by the insurance adjuster for the minivan’s owner in response to a claim by the attorneys representing the occupants of the car. The fundamental question was, “Who had crossed the

centerline?” A multi-party examination of the vehicles had been scheduled for a Friday and, despite the short notice, I participated, examining both vehicles. Data relevant to analyzing the crash could be downloaded from the minivan but not the car. Ultimately, it was my visit to the crash site the next day, Saturday, where I found the answer.

The marks created from the collision began in the car’s lane, indicating my client’s insured vehicle, the minivan, had crossed into the car’s lane. My client was an experienced professional and, with this information, settled the case promptly, saving considerable expense in the long run.

What can Barrett Engineering do for you?

August 9, 2023

Witness testimony and honest, reasonable explanations by your client are important to resolve a question of liability. What I can do for you is analyze the physical evidence to determine if it supports or refutes a claim. Was the driver really speeding, or was the electronic data from the vehicle flawed? Did a contractor’s mistake cause the fire, or did it result from a faulty appliance? “Is the claim valid?” “Does my client have a case?” Crash, fire, and incident reports are starting points. The marks on a roadway created by the involved vehicles, as well as their deformation in the crash, help tell what happened in an objective manner. Similarly, as fires consume, they can create evidence which can reveal the origin and cause. Slip-and-fall accidents, industrial accidents, and myriad others can be explained with sound scientific principles. Equally important to you is being able to present my findings, hopefully to settle the case, or to a Court. That is when I explain the technical and the scientific with common sense logic. If you wish, I can make use of visual aids like those depicted on our homepage. What Barrett Engineering can do for you is analyze the evidence in a Court-accepted manner and efficiently communicate the findings in an easily

understood way.

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