How are car accidents investigated?

Many of us have heard of accident investigations following car or other motor vehicle accident. Accident investigations are important to determine liability and ensure that victims are properly compensated for losses and damages. Because of this, you may have wondered how car accident investigations are conducted.

Both car accident investigations and car accident reconstructions are sometimes part of the process following a car accident, especially a car accident that results in injury or death. Both police and investigators may investigate a car accident. Police will seek to determine if speeding or mechanical violations were involved or if drug or alcohol use was involved. Additionally, if the accident involves a commercial truck, police will seek to determine if any service hour violations occurred that may have resulted in an overtired and fatigued driver and contributed to the accident.

In addition, independent investigators may be used by insurance companies or others to determine liability and, in turn, potential responsibility for compensation of the victim's damages. Any type of car accident investigation will commonly begin with an investigation of the accident site. The vehicles involved in the car accident will also be examined and the amount of damage sustained by any vehicles involved will be assessed. The vehicles involved will also be evaluated for mechanical problems or failures that may have contributed to the accident. In truck accident situations, log books and motor carrier safety laws may also be reviewed.

Following an investigation, an accident reconstruction may be performed. Different types of accidents, such as head-on or rear-end, among others, may be reconstructed differently. Accident reconstruction specialist can sometimes answer what-if questions, as well, as part of the accident reconstruction process. Car accident investigations can be important to ensure car accident victims are properly protected and compensated for damages following a car accident which is why it can be helpful to understand the process.

Source:, "Motor Vehicle Crash Investigation and Reconstruction," John C. Glennon, Jr., BSAT, Jan. 2001

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