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A Detailed Overview of Accident Investigation to Determine the Exact Cause of an Accident

Determining the cause of an accident is important, not just for the insurance companies in general but also for the drivers to prove their innocence (because auto accidents do lead to criminal liability in certain cases).

In case you are tangled in an unfortunate motor-accident, you may consider going for a private accident investigation to determine the precise cause of the accident.

The findings may not only help you with the claims (if any) but may also help you prove the fact that you didn’t exactly have a direct hand in the matter. In this article, we’ll discuss the different procedures of an auto accident investigation in thorough details. So let’s begin.

Who are the people to investigate these accidents?

The majority of vehicle accidents are investigated by two credible groups of people, and those are:

  • Police authorities
  • Private accident investigators

The police authorities usually involve themselves to determine whether any criminal activity has really occurred at the time of the accident or not. For e.g.

The police may get involved in case they suspect that drugs or alcohol were involved in the occurrence of the accident.
Private accident investigators are usually hired by the insurance companies or the driver themselves to find out the exact cause of the accident, which, at the same time, can help to determine liability and financial responsibility.

Unlike the police, the private investigators don’t look for any sort of criminal activity. Their job is just to analyze, determine the cause of crash, and report; that’s it.

What are the steps involved in an accident investigation process?

The accident investigation process usually involves four steps in particular. These are:

  • Gathering evidence
  • Thorough inspection of the accident scene
  • Thorough inspection of the vehicle
  • Accident reconstruction

Now, let’s go through all of them in a bit more detail.

  1. Gathering evidenceGathering evidenceSource- Nick Youngson

The precise reconstruction of the accident is the main motto of the investigators, but to do so effectively, they require evidence.

The investigators usually gather their evidence from site investigation which is the immediate thing that’s going to come next.

  1. Accident site inspection

Accident site inspectionImage- Accident site inspection

The accident investigators will strive to collect these information on priority from the site of the crash:

  • The PRECISE location of the collision.
  • The PRECISE time of the accident.
  • The first person to notify the police of the accident.
  • Weather visibility.
  • General information on collision (Was it a boulder or a tree blocking the road? Was it intentional? Could the driver have done anything to prevent the collision? What’s the final resting place of the vehicle?)

The investigators will strive to collect all relevant information related to the accident from the witnesses, and from the site itself (such as from skid marks, gouge marks, debris, etc.).

These will soon follow:

  • Photographing the entire scene to establish location and scale.
  • Taking 360-degree photographs of the scene.
  • Close-up photographs of the damage incurred.
  1. Vehicle inspection

Vehicle inspectionImage- Vehicle inspection

Source- Flickr

So the scene’s done and dusted. Now it’s time for the investigators to turn their attention to the vehicles.

The vehicle inspection is mainly done with two major purposes, and these are:

  • To check whether the vehicle was safe in itself, or unsafe driving contributions had a big hand in contributing to the cause of the accident.
  • To check whether witness statements support the damage done to the vehicle as a result of the accident or not.

Information gathered through this procedure can reveal a number of things to the investigators which are inclusive of things like:

  • The speed of the vehicle before the collision.
  • The braking intensity.
  • The point of impact and so on.
  1. Accident reconstruction

Once the collection of information is done and dusted, the investigators will turn their attention to the main thing: “Accident reconstruction.”

It is a process where the concepts of physics and mathematics are used to determine the exact speed of the vehicles along with their relative positions (all all times) during the entire sequence of the accident.

This data can be used in court as an evidential part of the verdict.

So that more or less sums up the entire thing. It’s time to bring this to an end for now. Hope you had a good and useful read.

Written By

Katie Smith is a fire expert and her areas of interests and expertise include forensic science and accident or crime scene investigation related matters. She often conducts fire investigation in Houston. Blogging is her hobby and she is also a consultant blogger, having well-accepted write-ups on a wide range of topics, such as general safety, security and safety equipment.

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