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Crash Reconstruction Using Human-Factors Expert Analysis Aids in Favorable Settlement

Around the stroke of midnight in near pitch-black lighting, an inebriated woman driving a Chevy Impala stopped in the middle of the right lane on a Georgia interstate. A married couple noticed the woman and pulled their Honda Accord onto the shoulder ahead to check on her. Behind them, the driver of a large Freightliner approached the stopped vehicle in his lane. As the intoxicated lady’s car emerged from the darkness, the truck driver glanced to his left side-view mirror, intending to change lanes. However, a large pickup truck towing a trailer was in his way, attempting to pass. With no time for evasive maneuvers, the truck driver moved left, trying to “thread the needle”. Unfortunately, he clipped the Impala’s side. The truck veered to the right, putting him on a collision course with the concerned couple’s Accord. The tractor-trailer collided with the Accord’s rear-end, seriously injuring the husband and killing the wife.

Almost three years later, the decedent's family brought forth a case against the 18-wheeler driver and his employer, seeking a resolution and answers to why the collision occurred. The Defendant’s company sought Mike Hostetter’s help, a managing partner at Nall & Miller, LLP, with over 30 years of experience defending motor carriers and their insurers. First, Michael shared his condolences with the Plaintiff’s family. Then, he began the litigation, seeking to bring logic and reason to the tragedy.

Mike’s objective was to persuade the Plaintiff that his client was not entirely liable for the accident based on the circumstances presented. To begin, he retained an accident reconstructionist to analyze the truck’s dashcam footage, black box data, and the case’s elements, testifying the Defendant did not have enough time to react. Then, Michael brought on a human-factors expert who outlined the Defendant’s decision-making process, or decision tree, at the time of the accident. The expert brought an additional perspective that was not reflected in the dashcam footage alone, opining that the Defendant did the best he possibly could with the challenges he was confronted with.

Mike and his experts attended the first mediation with the opposing counsel but had difficulty conveying the human-factors specialist’s testimony without a visualization, making no progress to a resolution. Thus, he enlisted DK Global’s help to collaborate with his experts and simulate the accident based on their acquired data and evaluation.

The reconstruction began with a bird’s eye view of the interstate. The reconstructed highway was shrouded in darkness to show how little lighting was available at midnight. Then, the situation unfolded with the Chevy Impala improperly stopped in the right lane and the Plaintiffs ahead attempting to help. Next, the camera pulled back to display a truck hauling a trailer passing the Defendant as he approached the vehicles, obstructing his ability to merge left and avoid the collision. After the impact was shown, the sequence replayed through the Defendant’s point-of-view from inside the cab using the human-factors expert’s direction. This critical perspective revealed the Defendant’s decision-making process as he observed the vehicles surrounding him, doing the best he could to prevent the accident.

Mike and his experts attended a second mediation, this time with the DK Global animation, allowing the specialists to narrate and express their analysis alongside the video. As a result, the opposing party understood why the tragedy occurred, allowing both sides to come to a resolution to everyone’s satisfaction.

For more than 30 years, Nall & Miller, LLP’s Managing Partner, Michael Hostetter, has defended his clients in serious personal injury and wrongful death cases, focusing on transportation litigation and medical malpractice. Since 2020, Mike has been recognized as a “Super Lawyer” by the Super Lawyers publication, a designation of top-rated practicing attorneys selected through a thorough evaluation.


"One of the things that I remember was impressive was the level of detail that went into the graphics."
Michael D. Hostetter - Nall & Miller, LLP
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