My goal for the following list is that it would be a checklist for attorneys engaging accident reconstructionists on their cases. What are the key things attorneys can do to work effectively with their experts? What is this list missing?
- Provide the legal complaint. This will give the reconstructionist the relevant details they need to run a conflict check and also help them to understand the issues in the case.
- Provide all of the data about the accident that you can. Typically, this will include the following: a police report, measurements and notes taken by investigating officers, scene photographs in the original file format (typically jpeg), photographs of the vehicle damage, driver and witness statements, driver and witness depositions, testimony of investigating officers, reports and testimony of other experts involved in the case. In some instances, this may also include cell phone records, data from GPS systems on the vehicle, and medical and autopsy records.
- Provide relevant case scheduling information (a trial date and any disclosure due dates, for instance). Update your expert when the dates change.
- Describe for your reconstructionist what the disclosure requirement are in the relevant jurisdiction. For instance, is a report required? When will their file materials need to be disclosed?
- Preserve the involved vehicles, if possible, and make them available for inspection by your reconstructionist. Many vehicles now store crash related data. It is commonplace these days to obtain data from a vehicle's airbag control module, but reconstructionists are now actively developing techniques for mining data from vehicle infotainment systems, as well. While reconstructions can be completed without this data, the data can speed up the reconstruction and potentially make it cheaper to complete. This data can also potentially reduce the degree to which experts for the plaintiffs and defendants disagree about what actually occurred.
- Preserve video evidence. Check the area of the accident for surveillance cameras that may have captured the accident. Also, check the vehicle for in-vehicle video systems. Video evidence is becoming a more and more common type of evidence that accident reconstructionists rely on. Your reconstructionist can help you find and preserve this data, but typically time is of the essence in getting it preserved.
Here is a graphic I started compiling based on this article and the feedback I've received.