How Are Accident Reconstruction Experts Used In California Criminal Cases?
Mainly when I see accident reconstruction experts being applicable in a criminal case has to do with some sort of a manslaughter charge related to some driving-related offense. For example, if two people are racing on the streets and a bad accident occurs and somebody dies, those people will probably be charged with vehicular manslaughter, and basically, the prosecutors are going to argue that they were grossly negligent in how they were driving. Therefore, they’re responsible for the death that could subject them to a felony conviction and prison time.
So, a lot of time what we’ll do is we will get an accident reconstruction expert to be able to show that the person wasn’t driving in a grossly negligent manner. For example, I had a case recently where my client is alleged to be speeding and racing with somebody and ends up hitting a curb that’s in the middle of the roadway to block cars from being able to go from one side of the road to another and flipping up in the air and causing a death on the other side of the road.
Basically, our argument was that by putting that curb where they put it, it was a dangerous design defect in the road because there was a curve right there. You couldn’t really see the raised curb. There are tire stripes all over that area indicating that other people had hit that curb. So, the accident reconstruction expert was used to judge time, speed, distance, and was able to make the argument that curbs in the middle of the road where it was, was a design defect. So, that’s a good area to try and argue that the accident, and therefore, the death was not my client’s fault.
I’ve had other involuntary manslaughter cases where my client has made a left with his view being obstructed by a huge truck and then a motorcycle hit his car and the motorcyclist was killed and they tried to blame the death on my client. We ended up getting that case dismissed once the accident reconstruction expert weighed in and was able to show that my client could not have safely made that left turn because the truck was illegally parked. There was a rise on the highway so there was no way to see the motorcyclist at the last second. The best testimony the accident reconstruction expert was able to give was that the motorcyclist was speeding down the road which also contributed to the accident and the motorcyclist’s death.
So, accident reconstruction experts in the right case can be very, very beneficial. I’ve used them a lot when the prosecutors are trying to claim that my client’s driving caused the death or caused the serious bodily injury. I’ve even used them in DUI cases where they’re trying to claim that an injury, for purposes of a felony was caused by my client and I used an accident reconstruction expert to be able to show that the person caused their own injury by the way they were driving, and just because my client was DUI, didn’t necessarily mean they were responsible for the accident.
So, accident reconstruction experts are great. I use them all the time. I have a couple that I use that are very effective. But again, they have to be used in the right case and you have to talk to your client about it and see what happened in the case to be able to determine whether an accident reconstructions expert is the appropriate expert to use under the circumstances of the criminal case in Los Angeles.