Meadville Tribune

Letter of the Law

March 27, 2006

The Importance of Gathering Evidence at the scene of an Accident

by Alan Pepicelli Esq.

(Continued)





Unfortunately, sometimes injuries which do not require immediate hospitalization, or which do not otherwise initially appear serious, may ultimately lead to chronic pain, substantial medical treatment and possible surgery. Consequently it may not be foreseeable within the days or weeks following an accident, that an injury is of sufficient magnitude as to warrant a formal exhaustive investigation. Most practitioners agree that, when in doubt, it is better practice to have a formal investigation performed, including taking additional photographs and measurements at the scene and obtaining taped statements from any known witnesses and from the other party, when possible. In very serious cases, a site survey and accident reconstruction may be warranted.



In any serious case, the vehicles should not be repaired or disposed of without consideration as to whether the vehicles should first be examined by an appropriate expert to establish such things as angle and point of impact, velocity of the respective vehicles, possible vehicle failure, etc. Many vehicles today are equipped with computerized sensory modules such as the SDM (Sensing and Diagnostic Module) utilized by GM in conjunction with the deployment of air bags. In many vehicles, these small controllers, which are similar to the “black box” in an airplane, record and store several seconds of data from immediately prior to the crash, through the time of the crash. Pre-crash data includes such information as vehicle speed, engine RPM, brake engagement; post-crash data includes such things as velocity change during impact (ie. crash severity). In many cases it is possible, with certain types of vehicles, to download this information for ultimate data interpretation.



As referenced above, because vehicles tend to quickly disappear following an accident, it may be critical, in certain cases, to secure the vehicle until it is examined by a qualified expert.



Once the vehicle is gone, it may be gone forever, along with valuable evidence.

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