How Do Police Investigations of Fatal Car Accidents Work?

Every day we drop our children off at school or drive to work without imagining that in the blink of an eye, we could experience a tragic accident. With only seconds to react, trouble on the road will happen and that rapid decision we make could determine if we live, take the lives of others, or are fatally injured. Moments like these happen every day on New York roadways, particularly with drivers who get distracted by a phone call or lose focus after a long day at work.

If someone you care about has died in a tragic auto collision, you’ll need to submit a police report to the insurance company. This important document is vital to your case, but the process is often complex and not always accurate. Fatal motor vehicle accident investigations require many steps as part of a larger, complex process to reconstruct what happened.

  • Contact The Barnes Firm

    Fields marked with an * are required

Steps of a Fatal Car Accident Investigation

serious car accident at night with police in the background

Every fatal crash has its own unique set of circumstances leading to the loss of life. These differences will vary widely, but there are some standard principles that an investigating officer will follow.

Observation of the Scene

An officer who gets called to the accident scene will make initial observations and speak with everyone involved on-site. He will try to assess how severely hurt the involved parties are and ask medical personnel to document the extent of their injuries.

Interview Drivers and Witnesses

Once the emergency personnel starts assisting victims, law enforcement agents do their best to preserve any fragile evidence and take statements from those involved in the crash and any witnesses who were present.

Document Evidence of the Accident

Actual circumstances of the accident will get noted by the police, including measuring and taking photos of the vehicle. Factors like skid marks, vehicle body damage, the location of the victim’s body, and other important information get noted at this time.

Inspect Vehicle Damage

An in-depth examination of the vehicle is another piece of a fatal motor accident investigation. This step involves measuring the extent of the damage, as well as checking things like the brakes, tire condition, and so forth.

Insurance Agent Inspecting Car After Accident
Insurance Agent Inspecting Car After Accident

Document Evidence of the Accident

Actual circumstances of the accident will get noted by the police, including measuring and taking photos of the vehicle. Factors like skid marks, vehicle body damage, the location of the victim’s body, and other important information get noted at this time.

Inspect Vehicle Damage

An in-depth examination of the vehicle is another piece of a fatal motor accident investigation. This step involves measuring the extent of the damage, as well as checking things like the brakes, tire condition, and so forth.

Note Contributing Conditions to the Crash

Every crash has certain variables that contributed to the accident and police must figure these out to reconstruct how it happened. Conditions contributing to fatal motor crashes include:

  • Weather
  • Traffic
  • Speed
  • Condition of the car prior to the accident
  • Alcohol or drugs

This part is difficult for the average officer to perform and an attorney may consider hiring a professional accident reconstructionist to do this.

Determine Criminality

Law enforcement will try to determine if someone committed criminal acts that may have led to your loved one’s tragic accident. These acts can include factors like:

  • Speeding
  • DWI
  • Roadworthiness violations
  • Hours of service

If someone purposely broke the law and caused a fatal accident, charges are typically more severe with stiffer penalties.

Create a Vehicle Accident Report

The state of New York requires officers to fill out a specific form within 10 days after a fatal traffic accident investigation has been completed. This report will contain the names of all parties involved, whether they’re living or deceased, as well as all pertinent data regarding the wreck.

Specific details you can read on a completed report include:

  • Date and time the crash occurred
  • Vehicle descriptions
  • Names of addresses of all parties involved
  • The medical services rendered
  • Hospital information
  • Identifying information of the officer reporting the accident

In addition to this form, any witness information, testimony given by all involved in the accident, as well as photos and retrieved evidence will also be attached.

Compassionate New York Fatal Motor Accident Attorneys

The complexity of fatal car accidents is an overwhelming experience for the families of the victims. Dealing with the investigation, trying to arrange for funeral services, and figuring out how to handle grief is too much to bear for many who lose a precious loved one in a tragic crash. Hiring a reputable attorney during this time to represent your lost family member when it comes to legal and insurance issues will help to ease some of the burden during this emotional time.

At The Barnes Frim, our compassionate auto accident attorneys understand that the pain of tragically losing someone can be agonizing and requires time to process the shock. Our firm is here to support you through this devastating loss by taking care of any insurance claims and possible legal issues that arise.

Your family has lost so much because of another’s negligence, and our goal is to help you recover as much as possible. We can assist you in seeking the compensation you deserve because of their irresponsible actions. We can put our BEST lawyers in New York on your case, many of whom have brought our firm recognition in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for the large settlements we have negotiated. Contact us today for a free case evaluation regarding your family member’s fatal accident.

The Barnes Firm (800) 800-0000