Attorneys for injury victims often rely on crash scene investigators to gather evidence to help prove the victim’s case. Investigators have a variety of tools at their disposal to help determine what happened during an accident. These tools may include sophisticated cameras, software to retrieve data from a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder (EDR) and even drones.
Tools like these are particularly important in crashes where at-fault drivers change their stories. They are also useful when witnesses cannot be found, or a victim was so severely injured that he or she cannot remember or explain what happened.
Below, we discuss some of the tools crash scene investigators may use to investigate an accident. These special tools can be invaluable when investigating a catastrophic crash.
Victims of catastrophic crashes who are looking for a Fort Worth car accident lawyer need to be sure their attorney has the resources to thoroughly investigate the scene. Insurance companies will be looking for some reason to underpay a car crash claim, regardless of the severity of your injuries.
Digital Camera and Special Tripod
Investigators need a professional-quality camera to take high-resolution pictures at the scene. If a picture is unclear or some part of it is difficult to make out, the insurance company could easily dismiss it. Even though smartphone cameras can take incredible pictures, investigators can use a longer lens to get a clearer picture with increased detail.
Sometimes it may be necessary to use a tripod to capture all 360 degrees of a crash scene. Pictures taken using this type of tripod allow an investigator to capture images like those taken by an aerial drone.
One of the advantages of 360-degree pictures is how they enable a crash investigator to “revisit” the scene after leaving it. If the investigator only has pictures taken by a digital camera it may be difficult to evaluate the entire scene. Sometimes revisiting 360-degree images allows investigators to discover things they previously missed.
Investigators and even police have started using drones more often to investigate crashes. Drones can take pictures from above the crash scene, which could give investigators a more accurate idea about what happened. For example, an overhead picture can show skid marks and give a different perspective on impact points.
Pictures from a drone can be input into photogrammetry software to create a 3D model of the crash scene. Such 3D models can be particularly important when more than two vehicles are involved in the crash or there is catastrophic damage.
A FARO scanner allows investigators to analyze a real-world object or environment. This data can be used to help an investigator construct a 3D model of a crash scene. Sometimes investigators use a FARO scanner with a drone to gather precise details about the accident.
FARO scanners can collect hundreds of thousands of data points. This makes it possible for investigators to reconstruct every object at the scene. Investigators often place these scanners at different points around a crash scene to accurately capture everything.
Clearly documenting an accident scene soon after the crash can be invaluable. Sometimes things at the scene change over time. The insurance company may not investigate until the next day or even a few days later. At that point, the scene is not going to look the same and some evidence may even be lost.
Forensic Diagramming Software
Investigators may use forensic diagramming software to create models and animations of the crash based on the data they collected from the scene. This could include data from FARO scans, drones and digital cameras. These models help to show what happened in the moments leading up to the crash and during the collision.
Software for Retrieving EDR Data
It is important to note your attorney may need to get involved to collect EDR data from the at-fault driver’s vehicle. However, once they have a vehicle’s EDR, investigators need to retrieve the data from it. Investigators typically have software that simplifies the data retrieval process.
EDRs only collect data about crashes of a certain severity. For example, these black boxes typically kick on when the airbags or seatbelt pre-tensioners are deployed.
EDR data may include things like:
- Force of the crash
- Duration of the crash
- How many impacts there were during the collision
- Whether the brakes were applied
- Speed of the vehicle after impact
- Roll angle of the vehicle
- Positioning of the driver’s seat
- Vehicle warning systems that turned on before or during the crash
Why Crash Victims Need an Experienced Law Firm
If you were seriously injured in a car crash, it is necessary to do a thorough investigation to determine how the crash occurred and who is at fault. The insurance company will conduct its own investigation, but its goal is to look for any reason to deny liability. That is one of the main reasons crash victims, along with their attorneys, need to build strong cases that defend their interests.