What 12 Things does a forensic injury biomechanics do?

Injury biomechanics engineers are experts who utilize principles of mechanics to reconstruct an accident to analyze personal injury.

Brad Nakase, Attorney

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Biomechanical Analyses and Motor Vehicle Accidents: A Brief Overview

When people think of biomechanical analyses, their thoughts often turn to athletics. Biomechanical Analysis examines the way an individual’s body moves to prevent injuries. This type of Analysis can enhance performance. These ideas are essential to understand for athletes of all levels and sports.

However, injury biomechanics is also crucial when dealing with car accidents. Biomechanical assessment seeks to understand and make connections between motion, forces, and body movement to deduce how these elements impact injuries.

Analyses conducted in biomechanics can be beneficial when dealing with disputes arising after car accidents. Disputes regarding car accident cases vary from debating the severity of the injury to inquiring whether the occupant was wearing a seat belt to researching if the accident was what caused the damage. Also, it is essential to determine if a product defect was involved.

Since the study of injury biomechanics relies on a mix of anatomy and physics, it makes sense to apply this study to the issue of motor vehicle accidents and all of their legal ramifications. Delving into the interesting physiological and physical responses of biological tissues to trauma helps figure out the nature of the accident and who or what is at fault.

Another necessary process is accident reconstruction, in which an expert calculates the severity of the vehicle impact. Next, doctors figure out the nature of the injuries, and biomechanics experts use these findings to determine the force of influence in the accident and the resulting personal injuries.

An attorney hires and uses biomechanics to prove or disprove a plaintiff’s claim in a personal injury lawsuit. Attorneys should be aware that for more minor cases, they might not need to consult with an expert for this data or hire a professional to provide their opinions. Instead, being proactive means conducting research and using phones or cameras to photograph the scene of the accident and the client. This aggressive approach can help the client substantiate their claims and allow the lawyer to win the case.

Evidence and damages are often lost or overlooked due to negligence or poor decision-making. It is essential to treat every case equally and with the utmost importance. Taking pictures, recordings, or videos of a client immediately can help supply evidence and data later in the case. Instead of ruing lost opportunities, individuals should equip themselves with the correct facts. While most lawyers are not experts in biomechanics, a capable understanding of this field helps identify the essential facts involved in a motor vehicle accident case.

Evidence is essential for any accident scene; analysts collect proof as early as possible and make it part of the official record. Experts in different fields utilize the evidence to form their opinions regarding what transpired. There is a ticking clock for finding, identifying, and logging evidence because, over time, evidence can disappear.

Any damage to vehicles should be immediately digitally photographed. Analysts should photograph the plaintiff and other occupants for their postures before and during impact. At this point, many professionals use a tape measure to record the distance, for example, from an individual’s knees to the dashboard or console (for a knee problem or injury). If there is damage to the neck, one can photograph the seatbelt and its position. Take photos from various distances and angles, too. For example, if the client braces for the accident’s impact, have them show this pose and take a picture.

Now that we have a handle on biomechanics and how they pertain to motor vehicle accidents, it makes sense to explore one of the essential aspects of representing clients involved in car accidents. It is time to use detailed questions to analyze the events and outcomes.

1) In what direction was the vehicle pushed, and what was the distance it traveled based on the point of impact?

An impact determined to be from the side (known as a sideswipe) that did not push the vehicle out of its regular travel lane will have low or limited potential to injure the client. While this is not true in all cases, it can be said to be nominally true. On the other hand, an accident that places the rear of the car in the impact zone and pushes the automobile into a different lane or through an intersection can have high injury potential.

2) What collided with the car, and where was the crash point? Were there multiple points of impact?

Attorneys must identify the primary sources of impact and where the collision occurred. Notably, a lateral effect on the client’s side (known as a near-side impact) generally increases the risk of injury. On the other hand, a far-side lateral crash has less potential for passenger injury since car occupants tend to move toward the impact point.

When a large vehicle (think a tractor-trailer, large van or truck, or bus) sideswipes another, smaller car, there could be a lot of resulting damage to the property and, therefore, a financial price to pay. However, there will usually be less potential for injury with a sideswipe than a lateral impact. Usually, sideswipe crashes cause more property damage and, therefore, expense than personal injury.

3) Did the collision include more than one automobile occupant? Were they sitting down?

A lateral crash can cause two different individuals’ bodies to hit one another, so it is essential to deduce who was in the car when the impact occurred—usually, riders of the car move in the direction of the impact. Sometimes, a high-velocity frontal crash can cause an individual in the back of the car, who is not wearing a seat belt, to hit the seat in front of them. The contact applies increased force to the person in the front seat, which is one of the reasons it is essential to figure out how many people were in the vehicle and where they were situated. Additionally, a lateral impact creates a situation where two individuals seated side-by-side end up impacting one another with their bodies.

4) What was the total number of impact situations that occurred?

Attorneys need to know how many impacts there were on the vehicle at the time of the accident. For example, being hit from the side can force the car off the road. The car must deal with a different crash situation with another vehicle, object, or even a person. Since car accidents can be unpredictable, it is crucial to have all the facts and understand what injuries pertain to specific impacts.

5) Did the vehicle have airbags, and did they deploy?

Airbags can provide vital details about the nature of the accident, so take note of whether or not the airbags deployed in the crash. Their deployment can change the heart of the sustained injuries, depending on:

  • Age and position of the plaintiff
  • Type of airbag
  • Severity or danger of impact
  • Type of impact
  • Year of vehicle
  • Number of collisions

6) What was the plaintiff’s position in the vehicle during the crash?

Individual body types are also important when crashes occur. Analysts can use this data to learn more about what happened and who is at fault.

For example, heavier individuals have bodies with more compressible tissue, so their bodies move further before the seatbelt compresses. Obese people will drive more within the car at the time of impact, unlike skinnier, slighter individuals—people who are more obese face more interior impact potential.

On the other hand, when individuals lean to one side during a rear impact, there is a higher risk of injury to the neck or spine. Again, this is because the individuals’ heads might not align with the automobile’s head restraint when occupants are seated uniformly.

7) Was the individual ready for the impact and bracing their body? In what way did they position themselves?

When a driver or passenger braces for impact, this action can significantly impact the accident’s outcome. For example, if an individual driving when the accident occurs grabs the steering wheel, straightens their arm, and braces for impact, more force is applied to the individual’s shoulder. Therefore, the muscles and tissues that make up the shoulder become impacted, not to mention the arm itself. Positioning of the body and the bracing actions taken can impact the injuries’ severity and the type of injuries sustained.

8) Was a seat belt in use, and who wore what belt?

Seat belts can prevent more severe injury from occurring by reducing the movement and impact of the individual involved in the crash. However, seat belts can also figure into the type of injuries that occur. A smaller-sized individual, for example, may sustain injuries to the abdomen or the pelvis because the seatbelt may go over their laps. For obese individuals, a very different reaction can occur. Analysts should note who wore a shoulder belt and a lap belt. These other belts can result in various movements, positionings, and even injuries during and after the crash’s impact.

9) Where was the head restraint, and where was the top of the client’s head?

The vehicle’s head restraint is a vital piece of the puzzle and relates to positioning the individual’s body when the crash occurs. For example, if the person in the vehicle is above-average height, the head restraint might not provide absolute protection. The head of the person could rotate back over the restraint, depending on the nature of the collision. Shorter individuals might be unable to take advantage of the head restraint’s intended protection.

10) Did anyone’s body parts crash into anything else in the car?

It will be vital for attorneys to collect testimonies from the plaintiffs regarding the nature of the accident and the order in which events occurred. It is also essential to ask the client what they remember about the impact. While it can be challenging and emotional for a plaintiff to remember the exact moment of impact, the more consistent the testimony, the better. Some details and facts can be pieced together, including either the face struck the windshield, which can sometimes mean they did not wear a belt. Also, any invasion of the occupant’s space often creates the potential for injuries.

11) Did the back of the seat recline, move, or fail altogether?

The movement and positioning of the seat back also figure into the accident equation. For example, a high-velocity accident featuring a rear-end collision, if it includes a significant individual in the front, can create a problematic situation. The seat back can fly backward and potentially hurt the backseat passenger. Additionally, when a seat falls and breaks backward, this can alter how the seatbelt is supposed to function. So, the person in the front may end up in the back or bounce off the back and go forward into the windshield. Therefore, seat back failure is essential for attorneys to study.

12) Did the plaintiff take photos of the accident? Is there photo evidence of these injuries?

As with any other legal issue, legitimate, hard evidence is vital. Attorneys must note if photos were taken after the crash since proof of injuries and bodily harm are essential in establishing the mechanism of injury. Images are also helpful in detailing what happened and how it occurred and preserving the immediate reactions to the incident. Sometimes, analysts use videos.

13) Were there areas of the individual’s body, or individuals’ bodies, that were affected by preexisting injuries? For example, does surgical history figure into the injuries sustained?

Lawyers are not doctors, but they can consult with medical professionals to find out how their clients, and the plaintiffs in the case, have been impacted. It is essential to look at the medical history of clients involved in accidents because much of that can come into play when assessing the damage sustained in the car accident. For example, if an individual has had surgery, this can sometimes lower the potential for injury to that area. But, unfortunately, damage can do this as well. In some cases, injury or surgery history can also create the opposite effect.

Also, a cervical fusion operation can lower the spine’s ability to deal with a collision’s impact. This impact can place the spine at greater risk than if surgery occurs before the accident. Additionally, a concussion before the accident can impact the subsequent concussion should it appear by raising the chances of it happening again. The plaintiff is more vulnerable to trauma in the accident since they already have a concussion as part of their medical history.

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