What is the difference between Accident Reporting vs. Investigation vs. Reconstruction

ACCIDENT: an unexpected usually sudden event that occurs without intent or volition

RECONSTRUCTION: an attempt to get a complete description of an event using the information available, or an attempt to repeat what happened during the event

What is the difference between Accident Reporting vs. Investigation vs. Reconstruction? It is primarily a difference in effort and in detail.

  • CA_CHP555_sub6_2012_2 an incident report or accident report is a form that is filled out in order to record details of an unusual event that occurs. Often times in a vehicle accident it contains, who, where, what, and then some completed check boxes (see CHP Form 555 for an example, the typical “report” will often times not include a large diagram..)
  • Ideally, Accident investigations determine not only what happened, but also how and why. In practice, an Accident Investigation, specifically in automotive accidents, document (some) of the evidence and are taken to the point of who should receive a ticket, and who was (primarily) at fault.
  • A full Accident Reconstruction looks at not only
    • who was primarily at fault, but also at
      • what mitigating factors could have been employed by one or more of the parties to the incident,
      • what were (all the) contributions to the incident,
      • were one or more of the witnesses mistaken about what they saw/heard, and what indicates that they were mistaken,
      • what WASNT documented in the investigation, but should have been

Unless you have a serious collision with serious injury or death to one or more parties, often times the Law Enforcement agency will do one or more things –

  1. Rule it “non-reportable” in which case no report is filed
  2. “Report” the incident, with little or no documentation, or
  3. “Investigate” the incident, usually to the point of who should receive a ticket, but no further.

Very seldom are things taken further than this, primarily due to time, manpower, training (or lack thereof), interest (on the part of the officer(s)) and administrative pressure to “get the road open and get back on the road and do your job”. If you feel that what you have received is insufficient to answer the questions you need answered in your (potential) litigation matter, we at Expert Wtiness Services Inc may be able to help you. If your matter requires it, we can provide as complete a RECONSTRUCTION in your matter as is possible, given the material you have available to you. To learn more about our services and what we can do for you in your specific incident, call us at 1-619-464-3477.

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