Accident Reconstruction & Vehicle Analysis


According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, vehicle and 18-wheeler accidents happen every minute of the day. With so many accidents, there are multiple reasons for car accidents and many times, there are differences of opinion as to what or who caused a crash.

McDowell Owens’ engineers perform comprehensive investigations, data collection, and analyses of crash sites to successfully determine the history of a vehicular crash and the factors that caused it. We utilize up-to-date technology to extract and evaluate pertinent information from the crash site, vehicles and components, drivers and occupants, photographs, manufacturers, roadway conditions and documents. Through computer analysis and review of physical evidence (including electrical and mechanical systems), we can determine vehicle speed, trajectory, and mechanical, metallurgical and/or electrical failures.

Specific areas of accident reconstruction expertise include:

  • Commercial Vehicle/Trucking Crashes
  • Single & Multi-Vehicle Crashes
  • Vehicle/Pedestrian Incidents
  • Occupant Kinematics
  • Component Analysis & Testing
  • Restraint Systems Analysis & Testing
  • Vehicle Dynamics Testing
  • Crash Data Retrieval (CDR) / "Black Box" Download Interpretation & Analysis

Through scientific investigation, testing, modeling and analysis, we go “back in time” to reconstruct the accident and answer these questions.

Our Accident Reconstructionists use sophisticated equipment and tools in their analysis, including:

  • Biomechanic
    Are the injuries consistent with the accident?
  • Failure Analysis
    Did any of the vehicles’ numerous components contribute to the accident?
  • Crash Data Retrieval System
    What does the pre- and post-accident crash data from the vehicle’s air-bag module (on models where available) reveal?
  • Transportation Engineering
    Did roadway design, line of sight and/or traffic-control devices contribute to the accident?

Specialized Accident Reconstruction Services include:

The Event Data Recorder (EDR), otherwise known as the “black box” is a device installed in automobiles that record onboard and operational information related to vehicle crashes and/or accidents. The type and amount of data recorded vary according to the make and model of the vehicle.

A vehicle’s “black box” records pertinent information moments before, during, and after an impact or collision. The EDR can be downloaded to provide valuable information to help reconstruct the events of the crash such as:

  • Vehicle speed at impact
  • Magnitude of impact
  • Engine RPMs
  • Accelerator pedal depression
  • Brakes applied or not
  • Seatbelt Utilization

McDowell Owens Engineering’s Certified and Accredited Accident Reconstructionist team are fully qualified and trained to gather and interpret the data from the EDR utilizing the most up-to-date CDR equipment.  Our team of experts considers all pertinent information including the physical evidence and witness statements, as well as the evidence from the “black box” in order to arrive at a conclusion and advise clients accordingly.

Since all EDR information cannot be obtained from all vehicles, click on the below link to access a complete list of vehicles that have “black box” download capabilities.

Occupant kinematics uses various methodologies and test fixtures to study occupant motion inside the vehicle at the time of a crash. McDowell Owens crash Reconstructionist utilize a multi-disciplinary approach involving engineering and biomedical science.

This enables our highly trained experts to determine whether injuries are consistent with all aspects of the crash including:

  • Who was driving?
  • Position of the occupants
  • Mechanism for injury
  • Effectiveness of safety systems such as restraints and air bags
    Injured party (ies) account and witness statements
  • Forces applied to the human body
  • Injury fraud analysis
  • Low speed impact severity

We have extensive experience in a wide range of crash analysis including, but not limited to, low- and high-speed collisions.

Our technical team provides failure analysis to determine whether a component caused the crash and/or contributed to the damages.

Analysis includes:

  • Engine/transmission
  • Brake system
  • Suspension and steering system
  • Accelerator/cruise control linkage
  • Tire and wheel examination
  • Air bags
  • Seatbelts
  • Lighting


McDowell Owens performs detailed analysis on all types of restraint systems including factors influencing their use, operation and failure.

Our analysis includes testing of components and sensors as well as mathematical modeling.

Vehicle Dynamics Analysis

Through computer modeling and demonstration, McDowell Owens examines vehicular accidents by focusing on the dynamics and physics of the incident.

We analyze the following factors and specific performance data including but not limited to the effects of acceleration, momentum, inertia, collision duration, velocity changes, and the extent of energy absorption upon such external forces as road conditions, tire conditions and braking and vehicle deformation.


Visibility affects all forms of traffic and must be considered during an accident analysis and investigation.  If a driver does not have sufficient visibility of the roadway or approaching hazards, the reaction time of the driver may be significantly increased, which could result in a single- or multi-vehicle accident.

Accident Reconstruction

McDowell Owens’ Engineers and Accident Reconstructionists analyze all applicable factors and the accident site to accurately determine the cause and the factors that led up to and/or contributed to the accident.