West Virginia sadly sees its fair share of fatal car accidents. These accidents are devastating for family members left behind, who often don’t know what to do. Although the police might investigate whether a crime was committed, they might not share any information. Many grieving family members have questions that no one can answer.
Contact Salango Law today. Our West Virginia car accident lawyers can investigate. Even if no crime was committed, you might qualify to bring a wrongful death claim against the person who caused the crash. Let us describe the process and analyze what other information you need. Below, we highlight some of the most common pieces of evidence in fatal car accidents.
Will Police Investigate A Fatal Car Accident?
Probably. They will be looking to see if a crime was committed. For example, they might investigate whether the driver who hit your loved one was intoxicated. The police also want to see how the accident unfolded. If a driver is reckless, they can charge him with a crime.
Not all fatal accidents are criminal, however. The police might find out no crime was committed, or the prosecutor might not bring charges. However, you could have a wrongful death claim against the motorist because these are civil (not criminal) cases.
Is Eyewitness Testimony Helpful?
Yes. We principally want to know how the accident happened. If another driver was at fault, you could sue them for wrongful death. Eyewitnesses help us understand which driver is to blame for the collision.
Some witnesses include:
- Other passengers in the car with your loved one
- Other motorists on the road not involved in the crash
- Pedestrians or bystanders on the sidewalk
The police should identify many witnesses when they visit the accident scene. They should also speak with witnesses. Still, police may overlook some people who might have important information to share.
Do The Vehicles Hold Clues About The Fatal Accident?
Sometimes. Here is a simple example. The driver who struck your loved one could have been drinking. An inspection of the interior of the car uncovers empty beer bottles, which we could use as evidence to show intoxication.
Some accidents are caused by vehicle defects. For example, brakes might fail, or airbags could not deploy properly. Any defect on the car could stem from incompetent mechanical work. In other situations, the vehicle was manufactured or assembled in a defective manner.
We highly recommend not having a car junked or fixed without talking to an attorney. Our lawyers might want to inspect it to uncover clues about what happened.
What Should I Look For At The Accident Scene?
If you were involved in a horrible car accident, you should focus on getting medical care for those injured. But if you have time to look around, you might record the following:
- Skid marks. These show whether a driver took defensive action in the seconds before a collision.
- Debris field. Shattered glass and torn-off car parts can help a person reconstruct what happened.
- Ice or road defects. It’s not unusual for a motorist to lose control due to a road hazard.
- Missing or obscured traffic signs. A tree limb might fall in front of a stop sign, obscuring it.
If possible, you can use a phone to take a picture of anything that seems significant. An attorney can review and use evidence that is helpful.
How Helpful Is The Police Report?
Very helpful. Investigating officers should include important information, like the date and location of the wreck. They should also talk to witnesses or at least identify them. We typically request a copy of the police report soon after clients contact us. Insurance adjusters also want to see a police report.
What Other Evidence Is Helpful For A Fatal Car Accident?
Our goal is to reconstruct what happened and what caused your loved one’s death. To that end, we usually rely on the following evidence.
We will review the records to establish the cause of death. If your loved one died at the scene, then the connection is pretty obvious. But some time might have passed between the date of the wreck and death. Medical records help us understand the sequence that led to your loved one’s passing.
Surveillance Or Dashcam Footage
If we’re lucky, video evidence exists. Video can establish how the accident unfolded. More cars have dashcams, and businesses have security cameras pointed toward the street. A fatal accident outside a gas station, for example, is often captured by video. The police might search for this video, or your wrongful death attorney might do so.
We find it useful to check to see what work a mechanic has done on a vehicle. In some situations, shoddy work contributes to a wreck, such as overlooking a bald tire or putting brake pads on in the wrong manner. Please share whatever records you have because Carfax and similar websites might not have complete records.
What If My Loved One Died In A Hit-And-Run Accident?
This is a devastating situation. Sadly, many motorists refuse to stop to help someone who is injured in a crash. Nevertheless, the police should still investigate. They might find paint smears that identify the color of the car that hit your loved one. Surveillance video could also help us identify the driver’s identity.
However, receiving compensation for a hit-and-run is difficult because we don’t know who to sue. Consult an attorney to discuss your options.
Who Can I Sue For A Fatal Car Accident?
You can sue whoever has at least partial responsibility for your loved one’s death. The most common defendants are:
- The driver who caused the accident
- A car manufacturer or manufacturer of a defective part
- A mechanic who did unprofessional work on a car
- The government entity responsible for the road
The primary purpose of doing an investigation is to uncover who might be at fault for the wreck. Once we have this information, we can help you bring a wrongful death claim. There is no reason to waste time suing someone who isn’t at fault.
Contact A West Virginia Car Accident Lawyer To Learn More
The death of a family member is an event few people ever forget. While grieving, you might not want to think about a possible lawsuit. Nevertheless, certain deadlines apply to fatal car accident cases. Reach out to Salango Law as soon as possible. In a confidential consultation, we can help you understand your rights and begin the process of seeking justice for your loved one’s death. Contact us today by calling (304) 342-0512 or sending us an online message.