Alabama Car Accident Forensics 101

Posted in Car Accidents on December 13, 2018.

Car accidents are one of the most common ways that Americans succumb to injuries every year. It is statistically likely that all Americans will be in an accident at some point in their lives, even if they have never been in one before. The fact is not intended to scare; rather, it is a good reason to always exercise caution and to prepare yourself for what might happen if you are in an accident.

Insurance Companies After an Accident

Insurance companies are there to protect you and help you to manage expenses when you are in an accident. Dealing with a car accident can mean multiple large expenses happening simultaneously, including medical bills and vehicle repair or replacement. Though insurance companies are not inherently against their customers, they do have their own interests to protect. For that reason, they only want to pay out what they absolutely must.

Alabama is a fault state when it comes to car accidents, which means that a party at fault must be legally determined for the other person(s) involved to pursue a settlement for damages. Additionally, the party at fault’s insurance company is the one that is liable for damages in general, whether the other party pursues legal action or not.

For this reason, it is possible that insurance companies using bad faith practices can try to pin some or all the blame on the driver they insure, if they can legally do so, to avoid paying as much compensation through the coverage. While this is technically not legal, it is often hard to defend why you (the driver) were not actually at fault without a thorough crash investigation. That brings us to the importance of car accident forensics.

Elements of Crash-Site Investigations

Crash-site investigations can happen directly after an accident, or later through reenactment. Both types of investigation provide insight into what really happened, and, consequently, who is at fault. Crash-site investigations focus on a few important elements.

  • Time and distance. Investigators need to determine how far a vehicle traveled before its driver reacted to the situation. They do this by comparing the known speed the driver was going with an average human reaction time statistic.
  • Skid marks. Skid marks show investigators factors about road friction and how efficiently the vehicle was able to brake. They also help determine the minimum speed the driver could have been going before the crash.
  • Kinetic energy vs. momentum. When vehicles hit each other, they conserve momentum, while their kinetic energy often converts into other forms of energy. Forensic investigators determine momentum by measuring the mass of both cars and the distance they traveled before colliding. Measuring kinetic energy can then reveal the type of impact.
  • Photography. Pictures of the accident scene provides investigators who cannot be on the scene immediately with the next-best method of evaluating the situation, type of impact, and force of impact. It also provides concrete evidence that can confirm or dispute either driver’s description of what happened.
  • Specs from the vehicles’ manufacturers. Each modern vehicle has certain specs and safety ratings that can directly affect how a car performs in a crash. Comparing these specs with other evidence found in the investigation can shed light on what elements of the crash human error caused, and what faulty elements of the car (such as the braking system) could possibly cause.

When a car accident turns into a legal dispute between you, the at-fault party, and your insurance company, you could likely benefit from a formal forensic crash investigation. A law firm can find experts to perform a forensic crash investigation after the fact with useful, enlightening results.

If you’re in doubt about whether the investigation of your claim was done fairly, or if you have any other questions regarding an accident claim, contact our office to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.