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Accident Investigations: How They Work, What All Drivers Should Know, & Auto Insurance Premium Increase

Car accidents, especially larger accidents with major damages, injuries or fatalities, are no small investigative matter. Following the initial accident and the arrival of police officers to take depositions, gather basic evidence and establish a crime or accident scene, an entire deep investigative process will begin.

In the event you are in an automobile accident here is a quick guide to follow before the police/first responders arrive.

Quick Guide – In the Event Your Are in Automobile Accident

Make sure everyone is OK, then call the police.
Call your insurance company.
Gather Information
Do not admit guilt.
Keep a tally on repair bills.

This post accident investigation is partially run by the police themselves, but more than anything, it’s the domain of a specialized group of professionals known as vehicular accident reconstruction specialists.

These investigators normally work for technical analysis companies such as LWG Consulting, engineering firms or specialized forensic teams in larger police departments and they dedicate themselves to the forensically detailed reconstruction of how and why a given vehicle accident happened after the fact.

Based on their extremely careful and comprehensive data collection and analysis, they will then present their results for civil or criminal trials and possibly insurance companies. Normally, this data is used in tandem with the investigative information of first responders such as the emergency services.

The Role of First Responders

In most moderate to extremely serious accidents, the first people on the scene will be police officers and paramedics, who will conduct the initial investigative steps and gather evidence and testimony that vehicular accident reconstruction specialists can themselves later put to use in their own investigations.

Some of the useful data collected by these first emergency responders includes but is not limited to:

  • Closing off the accident scene in order to preserve evidence

  • Taking photos and video of the accident while everything is still fresh

  • Collecting eye witness testimony and depositions from those involved in the incident

  • Tending to injury victims and collecting information on their wounds

  • Establishing a sequence of events based on evidence and eyewitness statements.

    Automobile after an accident

    Car accident. Most require an investigation. Image Credit: C. Comeau

These are just some of the main tasks taken care of by emergency first responders, and reconstruction specialists will take all the information that results from them into account while they do their own investigations immediately after their arrival.

The Role of Vehicular Accident Reconstruction Specialists

Having been called into an accident scene because it was severe enough to warrant their expertise, reconstruction specialists will get started on answering several crucial questions through a highly scientific process. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Determining if excessive speed led to an accident

  • Finding out what other facotrs might have caused the accident to occur (slippery roads, weather conditions, driver incapacitation, etc)

  • Whether a vehicles internal systems were functioning properly before an accident and if its emergency systems worked well during the accident

  • The overall sequence of events that led up to and happened during the accident itself

How do the reconstruction experts end up answering all of these questions? Essentially by following through a methodical three-part process that consists of Investigation, Analysis and Presentation.

Investigation

Investigation means the actual fieldwork and sniffing around evidence that results in data for analysis. Through investigation, reconstruction analysts do things such as:

  • Visiting the accident scene and collecting photos, video, available crash evidence

  • Interviewing witnesses, first responders and accident participants for their memories of what they observed and did

  • Examining the vehicles themselves, including their tires, brakes, internal components, cruise control and Crash Data Retrieval (CDR) box information if the vehicles happened to have it.

  • Examining weather conditions and road surfaces at the time and location of the accident to the best of their ability.

    Black box in a vehicle

    Vehicle Safety Data, CDR or a black box for a vehicle. Image Credit: Briggsauto.com

Investigation also includes a whole host of other important steps and the above are just some of the main activities the process involves.

If in a Car Accident Other Helpful Material

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2Auto Accident Apps & Ratings
3Top Tips to Get Cheap Insurance After an Accident
4Overcoming Insurance Fraud Charges
5Critical Steps to do After a Car Accident
6SR-22 Insurance
7Car Accident Compensation

Analysis

Once finished with the investigative process, the next step for the reconstruction investigator is to perform an analysis of all the available data with which they can draw some useful conclusions for testimonial evidence. This is called Analysis and it includes:

  • Processing all the collected data, especially numerical information

  • Evaluating possible hypotheses to see how they fit with evidence

  • Creating models and accident simulations, sometimes through the use of specialized software and CAD programs

Presentation

With the completion of investigation and analysis procedures, the accident reconstruction specialist is ready to create the most important part of his entire case; this is the presentation, which will be given before a criminal or civil court or possibly a panel of insurance investigators.

What the presentation does is summarize all of the detailed and highly technical results of investigation and analysis into a single easy to understand body of evidence that even laymen can make sense of.

What All Drivers Need to Know

If someone during an accident had committed a crime, attempted insurance fraud or acted in a criminally reckless manner that led up to the accident, the chances that an accident reconstruction specialist will discover the facts that get that person in trouble are excellent.

When it comes to serious accidents in which there are many material or medical damages and someone is liable for them, the chances that an reconstruction specialist can find out where blame lies are excellent. This is why these sorts of experts are so often brought on to major accident cases. Experts like LWG Consulting can help piece back what happened and determine who’s at fault.

Auto Insurance Company Information

RankInsurance CompanyCustomer Service Rating
1Progressive4.1 out of 5
2GEICO3.9 out of 5
3Travelers3.7 out of 5
4Metlife4.1 out of 5
5State Farm4.0 out of 5
6Allstate3.9 out of 5
7Farmers3.9 out of 5
8USAA4.5 out of 5
9Ameriprise4.0 out of 5
10Good2go3.2 out of 5
11Top 10 Insurance Firms
12Other Leading Insurance Companies

Auto Insurance Rate Increase if You Are in an Accident

StatePercentage Increase Avg. Yearly Premium
California85%$1,962
Massachusetts82%$1,604
New Jersey76%$1,905
Minnesota62%$1,360
Florida61%$1,830
Washington56%$1,499
Texas53%$1,620
North Carolina52%$1,060

Note: These are approximations and your car insurance company may drop you after the policy ends.

Stephan Jukic

Stephan Jukic

Stephan Jukic is a freelance writer who generally covers a variety of subjects relating to the accident analysis, digital forensics, mobile technology, marketing tech and digital security. He also loves to read and write about location-free business, portable business management and finance. When not busy writing or consulting on technology and digital security, he spends his days enjoying life’s adventures either in Canada or Mexico. Connect with Stephan on Google+ and LinkedIn.

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