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Case Studies

The following are examples of the many interesting and diverse investigations carried out since working in private practice.

Case History 1

In the west country an unladen articulated lorry was travelling along a fairly narrow two- way carriageway and negotiating a left hand bend with limited forward visibility. The driver braked hard when traffic in front slowed due to a road obstruction just around the bend. The trailer swung out to the right entering the opposing traffic lane and collided with a car travelling in the opposite direction. The car sustained a glancing impact along the entire offside, with the driver's seat belt anchorage point being dragged towards the rear of the vehicle. The severe chest injuries to the car driver and horizontal position of the seat back, suggest that this was one of the rare occasions where the use of a seat belt is likely to have been the major cause of the fatal injuries.

Case History 2

A collision occurred on the busy A127 dual carriageway just outside the Borough of Southend-on-sea in Essex. The resultant backlog of slow moving traffic soon tailed back to just below the brow of a hill and a multiple collision occurred when traffic came over the brow too fast with insufficient distance in which to stop. Several people were injured and many vehicles extensively damaged. I was jointly instructed to investigate the incident by four firms of solicitors acting for clients involved in this incident. As in most multiple collisions, the sequence of impacts can be broken down into small groups of collisions within the same general area. I was concerned with what appeared to be a group of seven vehicles at the front of the collision. A police accident investigator attended the scene soon after the collision occurred and recorded important information, but in accordance with police policy he did not prepare an investigation report. During a formal interview with this officer I discovered he had photographs, a scale plan and a record of the damage and paint transference from all the vehicles involved. This information combined with copies of press photographs and further interviewing of witnesses, enabled me to deduce the precise sequence of the collision and identify the guilty drivers. It was discovered that during the collision three of the vehicles spun around and were each involved in at least two impacts with other vehicles. The car at the front of the collision almost certainly sustained considerable rear end damage, but strangely its apparently blameless driver failed to stop at the scene and was never traced.

Case History 3

A very rare and valuable 1923 Bentley open tourer motor car was being driven along a country road in the Cotswolds on a warm summers evening. When turning right into the mouth of a private road it was struck on the offside by a vehicle attempting an overtaking manoeuvre. The four occupants of the Bentley were ejected from the vehicle and sustained serious injuries. Both cars left the road to the offside and were extensively damaged. The driver of the Bentley stated that he slowed down and gave a hand signal of his intention to turn right and was still signalling when the collision occurred. There was no police prosecution but it appeared the insurers of the overtaking vehicle faced the prospect of having to meet a very large compensation claim. My examination of the Bentley revealed it had no form of modern electrical direction indicators, and an extremely small rear view mirror that was likely to be obstructed by rear seat passengers. The vehicle had low geared steering without power assistance, so it would be almost impossible to turn such a heavy car through ninety degrees without the use of both hands on the steering wheel. Damage to the offside of the Bentley was in the area of the driver's door, but the driver did not sustain any injury to his right arm. Under these circumstances it is most unlikely that the driver was giving a 'turning right' arm signal as he carried out the right turn manoeuvre. I discovered the scene of the collision was on a straight section of road with adequate width and forward visibility for overtaking. The private road was totally obscured by a thick hedgerow and there were no signs or markers to indicate the existence of the narrow entrance. Having been provided with the above information the insurance company were in a much more advantageous position to negotiate settlement of the claim.