ATA'S "THE EXPERT" NEWSLETTER - ISSUE OF FEBRUARY 2021



In this Issue:

UTV Case - Doing it Right from the Start

ATA Adds ArcGIS Software

ATA Acquires 3D Printer

This Issue's Toolbox Feature - Accident Reconstruction/Back to Basics

































DOING IT RIGHT FROM THE START





S. Scott West, founder of the West Law Firm, recently negotiated a substantial personal injury settlement for one of his clients in a product liability case arising from the roll-over of a small utility task vehicle (UTV) marketed for children and youths. West’s 13-year old client’s left hand was traumatically amputated when his youth model UTV rolled over in a level field.

In West’s case, ATA Associates, Inc. provided planning, logistical support and data collection and analysis for dynamic roll-over testing of an exemplar UTV to quantify the performance and stability characteristics of the subject vehicle. The roll-over testing was one of several vehicle accident re-enactments recently conducted by ATA with live test subjects on-board which were briefly outlined in last summer’s issue of this newsletter

As Scott West sees it, an attorney engaged in a products liability lawsuit has multiple burdens. One is the legal burden of proof. A second, though not necessarily secondary in importance, is the burden of persuasion. Of these two burdens, the legal burden of proof is better understood, or perhaps it’s just the one that is talked about more often. Meeting the legal burden of proof, subject to the constraints of the Daubert or Frye rules on the admissibility of expert evidence, is crucial for success in the courtroom. A good trial lawyer knows how to meet the burden of proof for a judge and jury.




Interrelated with the burden of proof is the burden of persuasion. Persuasion anticipates the effectiveness and understandability of the evidence, and begins to operate early the litigation process. A good products liability lawyer knows how to address the burden of persuasion with an insurance adjuster, risk manager, defense lawyer, judge or mediator, long before a case ever reaches a courtroom.

In the subject UTV case, the elements of proof in ATA’s work product were the objective distances, speeds and accelerations measured and recorded by the electronic data acquisition equipment installed and operated by ATA in the exemplar test vehicle. More subjective but perhaps more persuasive elements of ATA’s work were the videos recorded by four in-vehicle cameras which showed the abrupt and violent effects of the roll-over on the UTV driver and his passenger, and well-framed, properly-focused high definition videos recorded by multiple ground-based cameras and a drone hovering overhead which showed a well-planned and well-executed test unfolding at a carefully prepared test site.

West admitted that he had engaged another contractor to conduct some initial rudimentary tests to examine his defect hypothesis before he came to ATA. He was pleased that his defect theory was validated in those early tests, but he was disappointed and dissatisfied with their primitive results, and he questioned whether they would satisfy the legal proof and persuasion burdens accompanying a serious case like this – it was, after all, set to be the first trial of its kind in the history of the product. West acknowledges that if the facts of a case are uncertain or if the value of a case is limited, low budget testing may serve some tentative, exploratory purpose. However, the facts of this UTV case (including poor vehicle stability and poor occupant protection performance) convinced him that he should go “all in” on testing. After all, in this case, and in cases like it, testing is an essential component in meeting the burdens of proof and persuasion. With folksy wisdom he attributes to his grandfather, West says “If you can’t find the time and resources needed to do something right the first time, where are you going to find them to do it a second time?” Just do it, right from the start.


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ATA ADDS GEOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION SYSTEM TO IT'S ARSENAL




ATA has added ArcGIS software to it’s lineup of specialized software to be included in our reconstruction and analysis workflow. ArcGIS is a platform for organizations to create, manage, share, and analyze spatial data. It consists of server components, mobile and desktop applications, and developer tools.

ATA’s work in ArcGIS has increased the organization and functionality of our analysis. By organizing geospatial data in layers, patterns and trends become apparent. Traffic congestion patterns, locational accident history and area landscapes and vegetation are examples that lend themselves well to visual mapping. Using the contextual tools available in this program, data can be easily visualized and analyzed.

In large scale accidents, knowing the type and description of debris spread over a large area is important to understanding the crash. The debris can be categorized and organized to potentially revealing the story of an incident.




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ATA ACQUIRES 3D PRINTER



As the years pass, we seem to be continuously equipped with new technology. At ATA we consider ourselves blessed to have the tools to improve our analysis techniques in our forensic accident investigation work.

One new tool Santa brought this last December was a 3D printer – a Raised 3D Pro Plus. Making a physical model helps us to “see” the analysis in an old fashioned, but new way. In the images below, a crushed vehicle was photographed. Those photographs were then imported into a photogrammetry program. The photogrammetry 3D model was then brought into the 3D printer software. An accurate scale model was the resulted output.









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This issue’s toolbox will focus on our “Accident Reconstruction” drawer with a focus on our “Back to Basics” program. This approach utilizes proper investigative technique combined with a cost effective process, in which resources and data can be accessed if needed.

The path of events during the process of litigation take many twists and turns, with the unexpected around every corner. Our “Back to Basics” program is designed to deal with these eventualities.

ATA Toolbox - Accident Reconstruction/Back to Basics.


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