Whenever there is a serious accident on our roads, some kind of investigation should be conducted. Police conduct their own investigations, and so do insurance companies. Since this is the case, it is wise to conduct your own, through an experienced attorney or private investigator.
Professional investigators often come from other professions: police work, automotive design or engineering. To be effective they must be skilled at logic, physics, data analysis and detective work.
What do investigations look for?
- They seek to preserve evidence that may be useful in court or in negotiations with the insurance company.
- A good investigation checks to see if traffic cameras recorded the accident.
- Increasingly, cars today have black boxes that can tell how fast the car was going, and how powerful the impact was.
Investigations by police have a narrow focus: to see if a crime was committed, such as reckless or drunk driving. Third-party investigations, whether by the insurance company or your lawyer, are looking to understand who was at fault in the crash.
A proper investigation includes:
A visit to the scene of the accident. Investigators bring a tape measure, to help them understand how fast the vehicles were going, how long the skid marks and other signs of violence are.
Then the investigator looks at the vehicle. This is where they may learn that your brakes failed, or a tire blew, or there was a problem with steering or lights. This is helpful if you intend to mount a product liability case.
Once the facts of the accident are established, reconstruction experts will study the accident to determine speed, direction and the force with which the vehicles collided. These experts understand every possible kind of accident, from rear-view collisions to rollovers.
The story they detect in all the evidence that was collected can play a major role in determining who was at fault in the crash.