When a car accident happens, the facts and contributing factors impact everyone involved, from the at-fault driver to the injured, and from family members to insurance companies. But what happens if those facts and contributing factors are cloudy or completely unknown?
For justice to prevail, crucial details must come into plain view. A car accident investigation can lift the curtain and help these facts see the light of day.
The tales skid marks tell
Of all of the evidence left over after a motor vehicle accident, skid marks are among the most telling. By analyzing skid marks, investigators can often determine the speed a vehicle was traveling in the moments leading up to a collision. These calculations depend upon complex mathematical formulas taking into account three things:
- the braking efficiency of the vehicle,
- the drag factor of the road surface, and
- the length of the skid mark.
This information can help determine whether a driver was speeding, distracted, or otherwise engaging in careless or even illegal conduct at the time of the accident.
Inside the black box
If you drive a car that was manufactured after 2014, it is almost certain that every action you take while behind the wheel is being collected by an event data recorder, also known as a black box. After an accident, an analysis of the information collected by the black box can reveal important information such as your steering maneuvers, braking patterns, clutch usage, and cruise control activation.
Older models of cars may not be equipped with this technology, but those that are can make the job of an accident reconstructionist easier as he or she works to reveal the cause of a motor vehicle collision.
What do the phone records say?
As much as smartphones have benefited our lives, they have also created driving hazards that never before existed. Drivers who text, interact with apps, and engage in other cell phone use while driving are putting lives at risk. The good news for accident victims is that evidence of such negligent behavior is often within reach.
By taking a deep dive into a driver’s cell phone records, investigators can often determine the precise moment he or she was sending or reading a text, making a phone call or otherwise interacting with a smartphone.
Another source of information regarding a car accident is people who were present at the time of the collision and witnessed it taking place. These witnesses may be other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, or even people who were in nearby buildings and saw the events take place. Visual evidence is valuable, but not the only source of witness testimony. Someone who heard the screeching of tires or the roar of an engine and can identify the precise time it took place may be able to provide valuable information to a car accident investigator.
Few people pay close attention to traffic on a regular basis, but when something unusual happens, it is more likely to remain clear in a witness’s memory. For instance, if a driver was operating a motor vehicle erratically, speeding, or otherwise engaging in careless behavior, eyewitnesses may have taken notice and can prove a valuable source of information in or out of court.
Putting the pieces together
One piece of evidence may not be enough to piece together the whole story of an accident, but by combining information, an investigator can often reveal the entire tale. For instance, a text message arriving seconds before an accident combined with skid mark analysis pointing to panic braking paints the picture of a careless driver looking at his cell phone and then slamming on the brake pedal as he rapidly approaches a stationary vehicle.
Why investigations are so important
The information obtained from investigations matters when a careless driver causes a car accident. Whether the facts are revealed during settlement negotiations or play out before a jury, injury victims cannot achieve the full measure of justice they deserve without first having relevant facts that support their side of the story.
Once these details come to light, victims of motor vehicle accidents can more easily pursue the compensation they need to pay for medical bills, wage loss, and other hardships. The legal system can also work to hold the negligent driver accountable for his or her careless behavior. This, in turn, can make our roads safer for everyone.