Research interest in passenger car side impacts has included creation of hypothetical models to simulate the real-life collision. Also, controlled testing has involved development of new side impact dummies, moveable barriers and various impact configurations whose characteristics will allow comparison of the controlled collision to real life. An important addition to this research is the interpretation of evidence available in the real-life side impacts themselves.This paper critiques the field work which identifies the character of the real-life side impacts through discussion of the practical difficulties encountered in documenting these events. Relevant issues include difficulties and necessity for accurate and relevant measurements; the problems related to calculation of door velocity are discussed in the context of latch/hinge failures during the impact and damage caused by emergency personnel. Inaccuracies in the assignment of magnitude of force are discussed in relation to their effect on locating the mechanism of injury. Finally the issues of injury assessment when a definitive occupant contact point is not identified in the vehicle interior is discussed in the context of the mass data files used by safety researchers.