Indianapolis, IN asked in Car Accidents and Personal Injury for Indiana

Q: How long should reconstruction of an accident report take to get back. This was a wreck were two people lost their lives

1 Lawyer Answer
Charles Candiano
Charles Candiano
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Chicago, IL
  • Licensed in Indiana

A: I hate to give you the stock answer but it depends upon many factors. For example, what types of vehicles were involved? How many vehicles were involved? Were semi's involved? What was the weather like? Were there eyewitnesses? What type of pavement? What type of grade (was the road sloping up or down)? Was the accident reported immediately so that law enforcement could close the road until initial measurements could be taken? Was there a fire?

An accident reconstructionist would take all of the above into consideration. In addition, they may calculate the coefficient of friction for the roadway (how much traction it provided). They may also want to know the traction rating of the tires on various vehicles as well as the tread pattern and tread condition.

If tractor-trailers (semi's) were involved in the accident and they jackknifed, that would cause a gouge in the pavement. Though many cars produced in the last 15 years collect a great deal of information, so-called "black boxes" in semi's have been recording a great deal of information for nearly 30 years. That information includes maximum speed and maximum RPMs immediately prior to a critical braking event. Many will also tell you the speed at time of impact, the gear at time of impact, and other information.

Law enforcement officers who evaluate an accident scene may take measurements and record their observations, through a narrative report and through photographs but they are rarely licensed accident reconstructionists. That is not being dismissive of their work. In a majority of cases, the data they recover is sufficient to make a definitive determination of what happened. In other words, they are able to reconstruct how the accident happened.

In many other cases, the data collected by law enforcement does not yield a definitive answer as to how an accident happened. If there is a lawsuit and one or more of the Plaintiff's hires a private accident reconstruction firm, it could take weeks or months to collect all of the necessary data which would include downloads from the "black boxes" in each of the vehicles involved, all of the data collected by law enforcement, and deposition testimony of eyewitnesses and law enforcement who first arrived at the scene.

In light of the above observations, please understand that as asked, your question is unanswerable. If you are stating that the accident reconstruction is complete and the only thing to be done is to generate the report, a preliminary report may accompany the accident report or the accident report may be supplemented within a few days or a week.

If this is a complex accident reconstruction being performed by a private firm, the only way that you could have any idea of when to expect the report would be to ask someone at the firm where they are. In other words, do they have all the necessary data to prepare a report. The report, itself is something that would not take more than a few days to generate, once all the work is completed.

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