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How Do Police Investigate A Car Crash?

Almost 7 million car crashes happen every year in the U.S, and the vast majority of them cause injuries or death. Police officers make accident reports for every reported collision, and investigators use these documents because they include pertinent, unbiased information.

Even with a police report, you’ll likely have trouble obtaining fair compensation from car insurance companies. These companies notoriously try to shortchange accident victims and keep profits for themselves.

Do you have injuries sustained in a car mishap? Better Phone Stone(SM). Jason Stone Injury Lawyers know you need to focus on your recovery without worrying about handling insurance claims alone. We won’t let greedy insurance companies mistreat you.

Why Do Police Officers Investigate Car Accidents?

Driver error and negligence cause most car collisions. Police officers responding to motor vehicle crash scenes know that insurance companies, attorneys, and courts may use their reports to help determine facts and liability. After helping injured accident victims, officers detail as much information as possible to assist in subsequent investigations.

Poor road conditions, bad weather, and animals suddenly appearing on the road also cause accidents. Suppose crashes commonly occur at certain intersections or around specific curves in the road, for instance. In that case, officials may need to change the roads or traffic signals to reduce the risk of collisions in those places. Police accident reports document the location and conditions, making these reports useful for road safety.

What Do Police Look For?

Police officers receive training in how to investigate a car accident thoroughly.

They Record Facts

Each jurisdiction may have different requirements, but officers typically document several facts about the accident and those involved:

  • Time, date, and location of the crash
  • Road, weather, and visibility conditions
  • Damage to the vehicles or property and injuries sustained
  • Posted speed limit, traffic signs or lights, and any other details to describe legal driving requirements
  • Diagram of how the accident occurred (the directions vehicles were traveling, point of impact, placement after the collision)
  • Measurements
  • Evidence of driver negligence, such as beer cans or drugs
  • Skid marks and debris from damaged vehicles or property

After the vehicles involved in an accident leave the scene, it’s difficult to describe the situation verbally. Officers usually take photos and videos of everything in the immediate vicinity.

They Gather Information

Police officers are responsible for getting information from those involved in a car crash and witnesses. From the drivers, officers get:

  • Name, address, and phone number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Insurance information
  • A statement describing the events leading up to the crash

The police question witnesses at the crash site as well. Involved drivers don’t have the perspective that witnesses do because they cannot see events unfold from the outside. In addition, drivers may purposefully give inaccurate statements to avoid blame for causing the collision. Witness statements often paint a clearer picture of how crashes happen.

They Form Opinions

Unless an officer is a qualified accident reconstructionist, they typically can’t legally determine fault in a car accident. They can, however, write a narrative describing everything they observed at the scene, including driver and witness statements.

Because of their training, most officers have a good idea of why accidents happen. Personal injury attorneys and insurance companies weigh the officer’s opinion heavily when determining fault and compensation.

They Issue Citations or Make Arrests

If a driver involved in an accident fails a sobriety test or is obviously under the influence of drugs, police officers may arrest them. Similarly, officers can issue citations for running a red light or other traffic law violations.

What Is an Accident Reconstruction?

In serious accidents or those involving multiple vehicles, assessing fault is challenging. In these cases, investigators may perform an accident reconstruction to determine how the accident happened.

Accident reconstructionists are trained professionals who use physics and facts to recreate a collision. They use several tools and pieces of information to perform their investigation.

Black Box Data

Vehicles today have instruments that record things like speed, braking, steering, and seat belt usage. The data found in this device can show how the driver performed immediately before the accident. For instance, it will show if the driver tried to take evasive actions to avoid a collision.

Environmental or Road Conditions

Many factors besides human error can contribute to causing a collision:

  • Animals, obstacles, or debris in the road
  • Darkness
  • Falling rain, snow, or hail, standing water, and snow or ice buildup on the road
  • Fog or other factors limiting sight distance
  • Potholes or uneven road surface
  • Road design flaws
  • Stoplight malfunctions

An accident reconstruction will attempt to show if drivers took appropriate actions in these situations, such as reducing speed, turning on headlights, and steering to avoid hitting something on the road.

Distracted drivers, fatigued drivers, and those using drugs or alcohol have delayed reaction times. Say Bob was texting while driving, and a deer ran in front of his truck. Investigators try to determine if Joe could have avoided hitting the deer if he wasn’t texting.


Reconstruction professionals may use drones, handheld laser scanners, or total station laser transits to measure the accident scene. The results can predict how fast vehicles were going before impact and how they moved afterward before stopping.

Occupant Kinematics

Insurance companies want to know that reported injuries actually resulted from an automobile accident. Occupant kinematics uses several factors to predict occupant movements during a collision to prove that the crash caused the injuries.

Vehicle Condition

The driver will likely lose control if a vehicle’s major systems like braking and steering fail. Investigators will examine cars to see if they are operating correctly.

Impact points, angles, and vehicle stopping positions can show investigators how much force the accident produced. This data helps determine speed and telemetry.

Why Is It Necessary To Determine Fault?

Insurance and personal injury claims pay damages in proportion to the amount of blame you hold for causing an accident. In some states, you aren’t eligible to receive compensation if you’re more than 50% responsible.

Attorneys and insurance companies perform independent investigations of vehicle accidents to determine each driver’s role in causing them. The police report is a crucial document in these investigations. They may also obtain driver cell phone records to show usage during the collision and video surveillance recordings that captured it as it happened.

Why Should You Hire a Car Accident Attorney?

You need to prove that you had minimal responsibility to obtain maximum compensation. You also need to show that other drivers were negligent. Accomplishing those goals is often challenging, especially if police officers pointed at you for causing the wreck.

A personal injury lawyer understands the difficulties and how to overcome them. At Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, we help our clients in several ways. We:

  • File necessary paperwork
  • Utilize our resources to investigate your accident and gather evidence proving your innocence
  • Communicate and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf
  • Use our experience to obtain favorable settlement offers and take your case to trial if needed
  • Keep you informed about your options and the status of your case

How Can Jason Stone Injury Lawyers Help?

If you sustained injuries in a car accident, you deserve compensation, and Jason Stone Injury Lawyers can help you get it. We start with a free case evaluation. There’s No Obligation, Just Information®.

If you choose us to represent you, you’ll benefit from our Stone Cold Guarantee®. This includes 10 promises to ensure customer satisfaction with our firm. Contact us today to learn more.