Evidence Preservation and Forensic Auto Accident Investigations: Seatbelts and Lightbulbs

Have you been involved in an auto accident? It is common knowledge that most individuals take pictures of the scene of the accident, pictures of their car, pictures of relative locations of the vehicle(s) as well as whatever other topical information that can be gathered (e.g., weather and road conditions). While most newer vehicles come with EDRs (Event Data Recorders) that capture the vitals of a vehicle just before airbag deployment (e.g., speed, impact location, seatbelt use, braking, etc.) there are also less common known artifacts which merit inspection.

Did you know that there are methods accident reconstructionists use to determine data about an auto accident from merely looking at seatbelts and lightbulbs?

What a Vehicle’s Seatbelt Says about an Accident

Evidence gathered from a seatbelt can help retell the story of your auto accident by first telling if an occupant was wearing a seatbelt and next by giving an expert some idea of the amount of energy caused by the collision.

Because seatbelts are constructed by a fibrous material, and because an occupant restraint system uses something akin to “brakes” when the actual brakes of the vehicle are depressed, immediate stress on the seatbelt harness will cause those fibers (which have an elastic/plastic characteristic) to undergo immense amounts of stress at certain points at or before a collision. Due to the plasticity of the fiber a later investigation and inspection of the distortion of those fibers can tell a lot about your auto accident.

What a Vehicle’s Lightbulbs Say about an Accident

Because some vehicle lights use a tungsten filament (which burns very hot), the post-accident condition of a lightbulb may reveal whether the lights were actually on at the time of impact. This is crucial when a party is presenting or defending their case based on conspicuity – the notion that a vehicle or an object could or should have been seen. While a human factors expert may also be needed, lightbulbs can also tell specially trained experts about the force of impact.

Adhering to other theories such as “cold shock” and “hot shock”, specially trained accident reconstructionists will be able to relate to you, the Court and a jury information about the force of the impact all from looking at a lightbulb. This information may oftentimes be overlooked by attorneys and defense counsel.

Making sure that you have the right attorney is important, but also making sure that you have the proper legal team and professional experts is critical to your case.

While Friedman Legal is located in West Palm Beach, Florida, Friedman Legal is able to help you with your auto accident anywhere throughout Florida. West Palm Beach serves as a central hub to Broward County, Martin County, Port Saint Lucie, Belle Glade and Clewiston but is also not far from Naples, Orlando, Fort Pierce, Hobe Sound and Palm City.

If you’ve been involved in an auto-accident, motorcycle accident, trucking accident, or boating accident, call us at 888-411-1677 today for a free, no-risk consultation.