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Fatal Car Accident Investigation Procedure in California

When you lose a loved one in a fatal car collision, filing a wrongful death claim and handling the insurance company can be too much to deal with. During this grieving period, as you and your family struggle to move on from this tragedy, you deserve answers and justice.

Family members who lost a loved one in a preventable accident often want to know who was at fault and what happened, how the accident was investigated, and how fault was determined.

To determine how the accident occurred and which driver was responsible for the collision, accident investigators must carefully review the evidence, accident scene, and other elements.

Fatal Traffic Accident Investigation

The first investigative personnel at the scene of a fatal accident are police officers. They will fill out a crash report documenting important accident details, such as what may have caused the collision, citations issued, arrests made, and other important information, including:

  • Date, time, and location of the collision
  • Vehicle damage observed by the reporting law enforcement officer
  • Alcohol and drug test results for drivers
  • Names and contact information for all parties involved in the crash
  • Any medical attention received by each person involved
  • Charges filed
  • Any factors that may have contributed to the crash, such as alcohol use, drug use, inclement weather, poor road conditions, etc.

The reporting officer will include as many details as possible.

As the officers on scene gather and document evidence, they will also evaluate and reconstruct the accident scene.
Officers will:

  • Redirect traffic
  • Provide emergency medical assistance to any injured parties involved
  • Speak with all parties involved and interview witnesses
  • Arrest or cite a party involved, based on evidence obtained
  • Document the accident scene and submit the crash report for review

In cases of fatal crashes, accident investigators may need to conduct a more thorough investigation to determine the cause of the crash. This can require virtual accident reconstruction and additional interviews with witnesses and the parties involved in the collision.

Gathering evidence as soon as possible at the scene is crucial to identifying the cause of the crash and the at-fault party.

The Role of the Accident Reconstructionist

A police officer or crime scene investigator may contact an accident reconstructionist. If a person died as a result of an auto accident, their surviving family members or the family’s attorney may also contact an accident reconstructionist to determine the cause of the crash.

In their analysis, the accident reconstructionist will rely on a variety of evidence to determine the sequence of the events that led to the fatal accident.

This evidence can include:

  • Make/model of the vehicles involved
  • Skid marks on the road
  • The direction each driver was headed in
  • How and where each vehicle was damaged
  • The speed each vehicle was traveling
  • Road conditions on the day of the crash
  • Weather conditions on the day of the crash
  • Injuries sustained by drivers and passengers

Physical evidence can be especially crucial if the parties involved in the crash were unable to recall many details of the accident or if no one witnessed the crash.

An accident reconstructionist can:

  • Determine whether or not the drivers could have avoided the collision based on the positions of each vehicle
  • Calculate vehicle movement and speed
  • Determine if vehicle occupants were wearing their seat belts
  • Identify the sequence of events that led up to the collision
  • Determine whether either party attempted to brake or increased vehicle speed before the crash
  • Evaluate the physics of the collision

The accident reconstructionist uses a scientific perspective to prove the cause of the accident and which party was at fault.

How Long Does a Fatal Auto Accident Investigation Take?

There is no standard time frame for a fatal auto accident investigation. This often depends on the complexity of the accident, and many other factors, such as whether there were any witnesses and the types of evidence gathered.

When to Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

If you lost a loved one in a fatal auto accident, you must contact a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. A personal injury lawyer can go over the investigative process with you, can conduct an independent investigation, and can hire experts, such as accident reconstructionists, to get to the truth.

Contact Lem Garcia Law Today to Schedule a Free Case Strategy Session

As you and your family struggle to cope with the loss of your loved one, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to seek justice and compensation on your behalf. During this overwhelming time, let a wrongful death lawyer at Lem Garcia Law take the burden off your shoulders and make this process as stress-free as possible. You and your family deserve peace and time to grieve for your loss. Our attorneys can handle every aspect of your claim or wrongful death lawsuit, prevent insurance companies and defense attorneys from disturbing you, and ensure you receive the compensation and justice you deserve for this tragic loss.

Contact our law firm today to schedule a free case strategy session and meet with attorneys who can provide the compassionate, strong legal representation you need.

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