Accident reconstructionists are often asked to determine whether the damage to a vehicle’s bumper is consistent with the reported accident or crash. While performing an inspection and analysis of the damage in question, the reconstructionist will generally be considering the following:
- The forces transferred to and from the bumper must be equal and opposite.
- The principal direction of forces between the bumper and the other vehicle/objects will define the line of action and the resulting bumper deformation.
- The deformation of the bumper will at first be elastic. Elastic deformation means that upon removal of force, the bumper will return to its original shape. Above a certain level of force and induced stress, the deformation of the bumper will become plastic, or permanently deformed. There may also be a level of restitution.
- Bumper cuts, tears, and shapes of deformation should be explainable relative to contact with another vehicle, an object (such as a tree) or a sequence of events (i.e., the bumper fell off and was subsequently run over by another vehicle).
Additional bumper contact or hammer marks, slices/cuts, or damage inconsistent with an accident or subsequent series of events can indicate vehicle damage enhancement. If enhancement is suspected, ARCCA’s Experts can make a determination based upon their inspection and analysis of the data.
PETER CHEN, M.S.M.E., M.B.A., P.E., CFEI, ACTAR, is a mechanical engineer at ARCCA specializing in Accident Reconstruction, Fire Cause/Origin, Product Failure/Liability, Car/Truck Failure Analysis, Industrial Equipment, Worksite Safety, Aviation, Medical/Rehabilitative and Exercise Equipment, Warnings and Instructions, and Transportation, including Railroad incidents.