When a serious car accident occurs, it is not always evident which driver (or other party) may have been at fault. And even when fault seems easy to determine, it must be proven if a victim is to seek financial compensation from the responsible party. There are a number of steps in any car accident investigation that can help determine cause and therefore liability. Law enforcement will conduct an investigation, as may a driver’s auto insurance provider and a victim’s personal injury attorney. Here we will take a look at these investigations and the information they can reveal.
Las Vegas Metro Police Investigations
Law enforcement is typically called to the scene of serious and fatal auto accidents. In Las Vegas, Metro Police’s fatal detail is responsible for investigating these collisions. Members of the team may be called at any time, day or night, to investigate the aftermath. Three officers are typically dispatched to an accident scene, with one taking lead as the other two document evidence and interview witnesses. This may include:
- Photographing and marking debris, skid marks, damage to the vehicles and other physical evidence;
- Measuring skid marks;
- Getting witness accounts of the accident;
- Getting a warrant to review vehicles’ computers, which contain information regarding airbag deployment, seat belt use and sometimes additional data that can contribute to an investigation; and
- Blood samples if a driver who is suspected of drunk driving.
Using this information, Metro Police investigators can create a diagram of the accident and can use specific algebraic equations to determine the sequence of events leading to the collision. For example, did a driver swerve to avoid a collision? Did a driver attempt to use his or her brakes? Which driver actually struck the other driver? At what speed was each vehicle traveling, and at what point did each driver react to the impending collision? All of these questions can be answered.
The information and evidence recovered by Metro Police may prove essential in any resulting car accident insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. This information may also be used to pursue criminal charges against the at-fault driver, when applicable. If the driver is accused of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), leaving the scene of the accident (hit-and-run) or another crime, Metro Police’s investigation can be used to prove guilt.
Insurance companies and personal injury attorneys often conduct independent investigations when it comes to serious car accidents. Insurance adjusters and investigators from personal injury firms may arrive on the scene as quickly as or even before law enforcement, depending on the case. They may begin taking photographs and documenting evidence without interfering with Metro Police’s investigation (special care must be taken if it is being treated as a criminal case, as impeding such an investigation is a crime in itself).
When a victim involves a personal injury lawyer later in the process, an investigation can still be conducted, though it may be approached in a slightly different manner. Evidence and information collected by Metro Police, along with police reports detailing investigation, can be carefully reviewed for accuracy. Additional evidence can be sought out and witnesses can be re-interviewed to see if any new details emerge. Accident reconstruction experts can use the data collected by law enforcement to conduct their own recreation of the collision by hand or using computer software. Accessibility to such evidence and police reports may vary depending on the situation, but an attorney should know how to seek out such information.
Motor vehicle accident investigations need to be thorough and conducted as quickly after a collision as possible to yield the best results. If you would like to find out the steps a Las Vegas personal injury attorney at Shook & Stone can take to conduct an investigation into your collision, please call our offices. We fight for car accident victims across Las Vegas and throughout Nevada.