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What’s the Procedure for Investigating a Fatal Car Accident?

fatal car accident investigation procedure

The grief, shock, anger, and sadness you feel because your loved one died tragically in a car wreck can be overwhelming. It might seem like there is no getting over sudden and unexpected loss. You may be struggling to make sense of it all. It’s perfectly normal to wonder what happened and who is at fault.

Unfortunately, finding out what happened takes time. The usual fatal car accident investigation procedure is methodical, which means you might have to wait months to learn why your loved one senselessly died before their time.

Texas Super Lawyer Michael Grossman and our team of dedicated wrongful death lawyers with Grossman Law Offices understand your pain. We helped many families file wrongful death claims with tremendous success. Your loved one’s life meant more to you than money. That’s why we strive to provide our grieving clients with closure and a sense of justice by holding all parties responsible for their actions.

What Happens at a Car Accident Scene in Texas?

Thorough investigations begin at the scene of the accident. First responders stream to the area to triage the scene. Assessing the injuries of those involved is the first responders’ priority. Hopefully, they will be able to treat the injured and transport them to the hospital. Sometimes rescuers call for a medical helicopter. Sadly, many accident victims never make it to the hospital because they passed away at the accident scene.

Car crashes that severely injure people divide the attention of law enforcement officers. Their primary responsibility is assisting the injured. They turn their attention to investigating the crash when the medical personnel clear the scene. 

First, officers try to determine who was in the vehicles, who sat where in the car, who owns the vehicles, who sustained injuries, and who died. Then, officers will try to locate witnesses and interview them. They will investigate the cars themselves for evidence of a crime, such as open alcohol containers or evidence of drug use. Investigators may scan the area for surveillance video as well.  

Officers often call accident reconstruction experts to determine the cause of the crash. Reconstruction experts analyze the data and determine how the crash happened. An accident reconstruction specialist surveys the scene, measures distances, and photographs debris fields, skid marks, and other physical evidence from the scene. If possible, the accident reconstruction officer accesses the vehicles’ event data recorders (“black boxes” for cars) and downloads the data. Event data recorders will have the last event before impact, such as braking, using a turn signal, or evasive steering. The recorders also may provide the speed of the vehicle upon impact.

What Can You Do to Help with the Investigation?

Texas law enforcement officers have a statutory duty to complete a crash report. Texas crash reports, known as Form CR-3, must be filed as soon as possible after the officer completes the investigation. Although Form CR-3 helps the state compile statistics, they are incredibly useful in other ways. The accident reconstruction specialist may use Form CR-3 to indicate if criminal charges are warranted, assuming officers do not arrest someone at the scene. 

Bringing a copy of this report to our first meeting is helpful. We can get to work right away on your case. We know how to get a copy of Form CR-3, so do not trouble yourself if you do not bring it with you.

You should cooperate with the prosecuting attorney if the police bring charges against someone for the death of your loved one. Just remember that the prosecutor is not your attorney. Instead, the prosecutor represents the people of Texas. The prosecutor will work to convict someone of a crime—which can help with your wrongful death claim—but the prosecutor does not necessarily have your best interests in mind. One of our lawyers will have your best interests in mind at all times and will work with you and the prosecuting attorney to ensure you and your family experience justice.

Why You Need an Attorney to Conduct a Thorough Investigation

You might ask, Why do I need an attorney if the prosecutor convicts someone of killing my loved one? The prosecutor is concerned only about criminal liability and not civil liability. The prosecutor cannot recover wrongful death damages for you and your loved ones, nor can the prosecutor sue other parties for damages. 

We conduct an investigation alongside the police and prosecutor to determine who contributed to the death of your loved one. For example, if a drunk driver killed your loved one, we might sue the bar that overserved the driver. The prosecutor cannot do that for you, but we can. Additionally, we might hire an accredited accident reconstructionist to help us with your claim if the police did not reconstruct the accident or have delayed completing their final report.

How Our Fatal Car Accident Investigation Procedure Can Help You Get the Answers You Need

Filing a Texas wrongful death claim is about seeking justice for your loved one. Our lawyers have extensive experience investigating and successfully litigating fatal car accident claims. We understand that no amount of money could ever fill the void in your life left by your loved one’s tragic death. However, ensuring all responsible parties are brought to justice helps create a sense of closure. Call us today at 855-326-0000 for a free case review. Here, you are not another client; you are a member of our family. 

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