"Accident reconstruction has become a very specialized and
engineering involved arena. Gone are the days of walking into a courtroom with
only a minimum of education, training, and experience. Many states will not allow
anyone whom is not a Registered Professional Engineer in that state to testify in
court. Due to the degree of sophistication incorporated into modern analysis techniques,
a thorough knowledge of physics, material science, engineering dynamics, calculus and
differential equations is needed. Much more involved, but infinitely more accurate
methods are currently available to those properly trained and educated."
"Integrity - Understand the principles, apply consistently. Enthusiasm - inner
drive; don't do it for the money."
"Integrity is paramount for longevity."
"When and if you are doing plaintiff work get your money (all or most) up front
as a retainer. Never promise a product you can't deliver. Always tell your client what
they need to know not always what they want to hear!"
"Get involved in local and national organizations of AR/Engineering professionals
to build a network and learn. Don't overextend to areas of expertise where you are not
truly an expert. Learn/learn/learn/learn."
"Tell the truth."
"Have a good technical education (degree in engineering, science, engineering
technology, etc.). Develop training (seminars, etc.) specifically in accident reconstruction
practices. Become active in an accident reconstruction professional organization."
"What ruins an otherwise wonderful business is having to deal with lawyers."
"Accident reconstruction is not a black box activity where you can superficially apply
equations that you learn in a few hours of courses. A minimum requirement to be competent in
this field is an engineering degree or physics degree. You should never apply an equation
that you cannot derive from the basic physics. You should fully understand all assumptions
inherent in the development and derivation of momentum, damage energy analysis, structural
response and all other analysis performed. This full understanding cannot be achieved without
a technical university degree. It is an extremely sad state of the present litigation
environment that self proclaimed "experts" testify in court when they never author a
technical paper, don't have an engineering degree, don't have the ability to derive all
equations utilized from the basic physics. An expert should not merely be someone who
knows more than the average jury. There should be greater respect for the title "expert".
An expert should be someone who both understands and has helped to advance the state of
the art in the engineering science behind accident reconstruction. Investigation and
reconstruction are entirely different professions."
"Be patient and realistic in your estimate of income, volume of activity, etc.
Learn how to present yourself and your story to a jury in a way that is understandable
and believable. Don't overestimate your own ability and knowledge. You can learn something
from everyone (even if it's how NOT to do something). Initially at least, spend way too
much time on a case and don't bill for the "extra" time, depending on how good your
background is to begin with."
"Do not work without a written contract. Exceptions are insurance companies however,
you give the adjuster or the branch manager a copy of your written contract so that the
gentleman's agreement of the terms are clearly known to both parties. Do not accept
checks or payments directly from the lawyer's client if you were employed by an attorney
firm. I will be glad to send you a copy of a contract. It should cover all your charges:
travel time, court time, deposition time (if they are different fees) telephone calls,
letters, service rates of others, late payments, photography costs, etc. LE personnel
have the best opportunity to succeed in this business. First they have developed a
temperment for dealing with the public and tackling questions posed while on the stand.
Second, the onscene experience can only be obtained in LE work. What happens to people
in a crash, what they hit, injury patterns, who was sitting where, perishable evidence,
what happens to evidence on a care when the extrication crew goes to work or it is
towed from the scene or stripped in a tow yard. Thirdly, LE people in AR work get all
sorts of free training, they get court room experience, and they can get the same
education as anyone else (engineers, physicists, etc.) from outside classes/course
or reading books. But they should not get the impression that they got it all and don't
have to continue to work at learning more. This field is continually changing and new
programs and intelligence are happening every day."
"Be patient, be scrupulously honest."
"Stay current by attending training seminars, etc. Work very hard at keeping a good
track record; your reputation is only as good as you. Learn how to remain unbiased."
"If attorneys are going to pay you prevailing wage (>/ $150 per hour in CA) you
must get at least a B.Sc. in hard science. Also, the work is cyclic. Save for the lulls."
"Stay put in your job until you build a name for yourself and some reliable clients.
Be patient and if you are good at what you do and fair and honest word will get around.
Don't expect to much and you won't be disappointed."
"Accident reconstruction is a "feast or famine" business in my experience. Be prepared
for "slow" times, and NEVER, NEVER become a "whore" (any opinion for sale, no matter if
factual). That reputation will get out there fast!"
"Always maintain you integrity. There will be a great deal of temptation. Money is
NOT everything. Learn to say "no" in a respectful manner. Do not accept cases, which are
questionable in their integrity."
"Tell the Client the way it is not necessarily they way they want to hear it. Know
your own limitations and work within them, the Client will appreciate your services more.
Don't expect to start at the top of the pay scale."
"Make sure you have a solid base of math."
"Never compromise yourself for the sake of a client. Be willing to spend a free hour
with a client. Become ACTAR certified. Never stop your education."
"If you can't, don't."
"Work very hard at making sure you are not wrong but don't try to "fudge" it when you
are. Don't jeopardize your credibility with the court by lying, bluffing or giving evidence
that is not correct."
"Honesty is the best policy. Never compromise your principles even for the best of
"You live and die by your reputation."
"Give 10% more than you charge for."
"Know and don't go beyond the limits of what you can do for the client."
"Be honest and ethical."
"Tell the client the way it is, not necessarily the way they want to hear it."
"Know your own limitations and work within them. The client will appreciate your