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Job Description for an Accident Reconstruction Engineer

by Clayton Browne

Automobile accidents are an unfortunate reality of modern life. Most are minor fender benders with few significant injuries, but some car accidents are more serious and result in many thousands of dollars worth of damage, serious injuries and even fatalities. More serious auto accidents often involve law enforcement and insurance companies to determine legal liability and the extent of any claims. In some cases, an accident reconstruction engineer is brought in to examine evidence at the scene of the accident and determine what actually occurred.

Education and Accreditation

Accident reconstruction engineers typically have a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, transportation engineering or biomechanical engineering. Some go on to earn a master's degree or a Ph.D. Thorough knowledge of physics and engineering theory is essential for an accident reconstruction engineer. Many accident reconstruction engineers choose to become accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction. You must meet educational qualifications and pass a written and practical exam to become ACTAR accredited.

Examine Evidence

Virtually all accidents can be accurately reconstructed as long as all of the necessary evidence is collected. It is ideal if an accident reconstruction engineer can visit the scene in person to gather the evidence, but that is only occasionally possible. This means that reconstruction engineers must be able to reconstruct the scene on the basis of photographs, weather conditions, vehicle data and other physical evidence.

Reconstruct the Accident

Accident reconstruction engineers use the evidence they collect or are provided to reconstruct the accident. Accident reconstruction involves using math and physics to calculate factors such as impact and departure speeds, angles and delta-V to show the path each vehicle traveled to create the accident. Accident reconstruction data is used both to determine who is at fault in an accident and to assess the reasonability of the reported injuries.

Accident Reconstruction Engineer Pay

According to the self-reported employment statistics website JOBSTAT, forensic accident reconstruction engineers earned a median salary of $87,422 in 2013. The highest reported salary for a reconstruction engineer was $165,284 and the lowest salary reported was $33,503. The median hourly rate for accident reconstruction engineers was $43 per hour.

About the Author

Clayton Browne has been writing professionally since 1994. He has written and edited everything from science fiction to semiconductor patents to dissertations in linguistics, having worked for Holt, Rinehart & Winston, Steck-Vaughn and The Psychological Corp. Browne has a Master of Science in linguistic anthropology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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