Bicycle Accident Case Study: Computer-Generated Animation in Court

In a trial, there really isn't much difference when dealing with a bicycle accident. Many of the same considerations associated with a vehicular accident case are also sustained in bicycle accidents.
Photo by Ian Valerio on Unsplash

A bicycle accident isn’t a strange occurrence in the United States and around the world. According to a data report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), bicycle accidents account for 2.3% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States as of 2013. They further published a bike safety brochure admonishing bikers to “remember that a bicycle is considered a vehicle. Follow the rules of the road for motorized vehicles, know and obey the traffic laws, signs, and signals, and signal when turning.”

These bicycle accidents can lead to a lawsuit where the parties involved suffered from injuries. The plaintiff in the case will look to affirm that the injuries gotten from the accident were a result of the other party’s negligence, speeding, running a red light, unsafe lane changes, etc.

Bicycle Accident 1
Photograph by Dmitrii Vaccinium (

Sommervold v. Grevols

One of such cases is the case of Sommervold v. Grevlos decided at the Supreme Court of South Dakota.

Sommervold and Grevlos were both riding bicycles when they heavily collided at the bottom of two steep slopes, leaving both riders severely injured. Sommervold did not have a bicycle light, but Grevlos had his switched on. Sommervold was found laying in the center of the road when rescue came, while Grevlos was seated near a corner.

Sommervold suffered injuries that amounted to about $3,600.00 in medical treatment. In the case of Grevlos, his right shoulder was badly injured and could not be fixed. That resulted in the practical loss of his right arm.

Bicycle Accident
Photograph by Daniela Santos (

Computer-generated animation used in the bicycle accident case

During the trial, Grevlos used computer-generated animation to illustrate his accident reconstruction expert’s testimony. 

The animation had four video components, two of which depicted what Grevlos saw and what Grevlos would have seen if Sommervold’s bicycle had a light. Another video was shown to illustrate that Sommervold should have noticed Grevlos riding his bicycle. 

However, the animation wasn’t admissible as the trial court maintained that the animation inaccurately portrayed the conditions and events surrounding the accident.

Some of the events pointed out as being inaccurate with what the animation portrayed was the speed with which the bicycles moved. The animation illustrated the bicycles to be moving at 25 miles per hour. The evidence presented that the bicycles moved between the speed range of 28 to 40 miles per hour. 

The lighting as shown in the animation was also pointed out to have been inaccurate. Evidence presented that the light from a streetlight close to the venue of the accident was dispersed in a spheroid. The animation portrayed that it was cast clearly in a circle.

The location and side of the clash portrayed by the animation were also highlighted as inaccurate by the trial court. These were the grounds on which the trial court rendered the animation inadmissible.

In conclusion, depicting an expert witness’ explanation of an accident with a computer-generated animation shouldn’t make it describe the event less accurately. In fact, it should make the environment come to life and depict various possibilities accurately.

Fox Animated Engineering will accurately illustrate events relating to a bicycle accident and its environment for your cases. Click here to reach out to our team. 

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