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Accident Reconstruction

Accident reconstruction drawings are visual recreations of an accident. They normally depict the accident and the surrounding area, as well as the vehicles and people involved. They're created using eyewitness reports, photos, security footage, and physical evidence.

Accident reconstruction diagram example

Why Creating an Accident Reconstruction Drawing is Important

Properly documenting a traffic accident with a good diagram is often the deciding factor in winning a claim in court or at an arbitration hearing. Most trial lawyers agree that a well-prepared accident reconstruction graphic will dramatically improve the odds of prevailing. Some attribute a 90% success rate to a properly documented diagram, as it allows the judge, jury, or arbitrator to clearly see and understand the facts visually.

How to Prepare an Accident Reconstruction

Start by setting the scene. It's a good idea to begin with a satellite image of the accident scene from Google Earth. This will allow you to develop your accident reconstruction with an accurate setting.

Satellite image of the accident

It will also serve useful as an exhibit or attachment to your accident scene diagram, as it shows that your diagram is fact-based.

Set the Accident Scene

Start with an accident reconstruction template to build your diagram. We'll use SmartDraw to do this. This is much easier and more accurate than trying to draw the scene by hand. Plus, when you're finished, you'll have a presentation-quality graphic.

Begin by selecting from one of dozens of templates that cover multiple-lane roads, intersections, highways, freeways, parking lots, and many other settings. Here are just a few of the options available:

Selecting an accident reconstruction template

How to Create an Accident Reconstruction Graphic

In addition to using a template, you can also create your own custom accident reconstruction, as shown in this example. If you want to follow along but don't have a copy of SmartDraw, you may try it now, at no cost.

This accident intersection features four north-south lanes and two east-west lanes of traffic. Create this by clicking and stamping two T-Intersection symbols onto a blank page.

Adding an intersection

Adding Symbols

SmartDraw includes hundreds of symbols for everything you need in your accident reconstruction: cars, trucks, and vehicles of all kinds; traffic signs and road markings, roadway objects, and more. Simply select the symbols you need from the SmartPanel, and stamp them onto your diagram.

Using the Line tool in the upper toolbar and the Roads and Intersections area in the SmartPanel, we'll add lane markings.

Adding accident reconstruction symbols

This intersection features signals at each corner and an overhead traffic light at the center. There was a temporary construction zone at the time of the incident, so these symbols are added next. We'll also add a compass and our diagram information box from the SmartPanel.

Adding traffic lights

You'll want to include only the information that is important to the case. Don't add extraneous items, as they will distract from the visual facts being presented.

Next, add the vehicles involved. Show their course of travel and denote the point of the collision. Be sure to label each vehicle.

The final step is to add a legend and a brief description of the accident.

Adding the cars

Why a Good Accident Reconstruction Drawing Wins Claims

Look at the diagram. Can you see how it's possible the driver of Vehicle No. 2 might have been distracted by the road construction and failed to see the red light? Is it clear that the witness in Vehicle No. 3 had a clear view of the collision? Also, since the witness was stopped for a red light, does this visual help clarify which driver more likely had the green light?

These things are much easier to see and comprehend with a good, clear accident reconstruction graphic. It's easy to see how this type of visual documentation helps to provide a much more compelling account of the accident than a written or verbal description.

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