Wrongful Death Claim: How Effective Is An Expert Reconstruction?

The capability of an expert reconstruction in a wrongful death claim can come to fruition only when it is carried out according to the proper procedure.
Wrongful Death
Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash

The demise of a loved one can plunge one into the depths of despair. Instigating a wrongful death claim against the perpetrator in such a state can unleash a fresh bolt of prolonged pain and a sense of loss. With an expert reconstruction of the case, the process can be fastened, and justice will be served in the quickest time possible.

A reconstruction of an incident is usually carried out to determine the actual events that transpired through inspections and scientific deductions that are widely accepted. 

Expert reconstructions of events are common in vehicular accidents, shooting incidents, construction incidents, and wrongful death cases. 

In this article, our focus will be on wrongful death. This leads to the question, what is a wrongful death claim?

What Is A Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death actions are filed against a defendant who has instigated the death of another person, either via negligence or through deliberate action. 

Wrongful death cases allow a deceased person’s estate or family members to sue the legally responsible party for their death. Though wrongful death laws differ by state, these cases are typically brought by a representative of the deceased person’s estate, generally on behalf of surviving family members.

In some instances, a wrongful death action may require expert reconstruction of the case. 

For instance, the expert witness may present an accident reconstruction in a vehicular incident case. 

Before reconstructions are put together, the expert must have done their due diligence in finding out the truth of the case.

In a vehicular accident reconstruction, the expert must have done a site inspection where they would look out for debris, tire marks, and damage to objects and measure the distance of the road leading up to where the collision happened.

Likewise, they would also do a vehicle inspection while taking cognizance of where the vehicle ended up or the resting point of the vehicle after the collision, the angle of the damage to the vehicle, and also download from the electronic data recorder known as the black box, which helps them determine the speed of the vehicle before the impact and the angle of the steering before the impact. 

This way, they would be able to reconstruct the events that led to the catastrophic death of a loved one. 

Can Animation Reconstruction Be Used In A Wrongful Death Case?

Every reconstruction must be presented via an outlet, and the mode of presentation solely depends on the case’s complexity. If the case harbors many complexities, then legal animation can be used to present the reconstruction to the court. 

Thus, in a case involving wrongful death, the expert must be a person qualified to testify about scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge. They must also ensure that the reconstruction accurately depicts the events that transpired. 

In addition to that, the reconstruction must not contain prejudicial and irrelevant factors. 

Beyond these, the scientific method used in deriving the reconstruction must also conform to the accepted usage in the scientific field. 

When all these are complied with, the reconstruction can be easily admissible as evidence. A good example is the case of TRI Transportation Company v. Hughes

In the instant case, a large family was tragically wiped out in what can only be described as a multi-fatality vehicular accident. The respondent, Mr. Hughes’s expert witness’s reconstruction, was objected.

However, the court of appeal held that the reconstruction was rendered admissible and the case appropriately retried. The basis of the judgment was derived from the due process that was followed by the expert, an emeritus professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas. 

It was explicitly stated that in preparing for his testimony, he;

  • reviewed the police accident report and photographs from the accident scene
  • visited and took measurements at the accident site
  • specifically measured the gouge and scrape marks created by the accident
  • ran skid tests with an exemplar vehicle and measuring device to determine the roadway’s coefficient of friction
  • inspected and photographed the Yukon
  • collected data on the Yukon’s speed and braking during the five seconds before impact from the vehicle’s “black box”
  • performed a time-distance analysis, and:
  • reviewed the accident scene witnesses’ statements and depositions.”

Given the foregoing, the expert witness’s reconstruction of the case was deemed admissible. This portrays that in the instance of a lawfully done expert reconstruction in a wrongful death case, the application would be with merit in court.

Conclusion

Legal animation is a great conduit pipe through which expert reconstruction can be conducted to the jury. The assistance of a legal animation company must be employed to ensure that only the best is delivered. 

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