Jason Stephens | September 21, 2023 | Car Accidents
Sadly, thousands of people die in car accidents each year. In 2022, Texas reported 4,481 traffic deaths. A person was killed about every two minutes in car accidents that year.
Car accidents occur every day in Fort Worth. The state reports 13,401 traffic crashes in Fort Worth during 2022, including 114 fatal crashes.
Law enforcement officers respond to fatal car accidents to investigate the crash. If a fatal accident occurs within the city’s jurisdiction, the Traffic Investigation Unit of the Fort Worth Police Department generally conducts the investigation. County and state law enforcement offices also conduct investigations of fatal car accidents in Fort Worth.
All law enforcement agencies have procedures for investigating fatal car accidents. There are differences depending on the agency and the circumstances surrounding the car accident. However, some standard principles used during a police investigation of a fatal car accident include:
When a police officer arrives at a fatal accident scene, they make initial observations. They speak to each person to assess injuries and offer assistance if necessary. The officer may confirm that emergency medical services are on their way to the accident scene if they have not arrived yet.
Interview Drivers and Witnesses
Once officers confirm that victims are receiving the necessary medical care, they can begin interviewing drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses. The severity of injuries sustained in the accident might prevent officers from speaking with drivers and passengers. However, eyewitness testimony can be beneficial when investigating a fatal car accident.
Documenting Physical Evidence at the Accident Scene
Police officers take pictures and make photographs of the vehicles, including their positions and the physical damage to each vehicle. Police officers also measure distances, look for skid marks, examine road debris, and make note of all physical evidence at the accident scene.
When a person dies in a car accident, photographs of the victim’s body and position are taken before the body is removed. The officers check to determine if the person was wearing a seatbelt and if the airbags were deployed.
Note Factors and Conditions That Could Have Contributed to the Accident
The police officer’s assessment is not the final determination of fault for an accident claim. However, the police officer’s notes regarding contributing factors identified at the accident scene can be used to help prove how a fatal car accident occurred.
Potential conditions and factors that a police officer might note during a fatal car accident investigation include:
- Alcohol and/or drugs
- Weather conditions
- Condition of the vehicles
- Traffic conditions
- Road conditions
Because accident reconstruction can be challenging, a Fort Worth car accident lawyer might hire professional accident reconstructionists to assist in a car accident case.
The police officers usually note which driver contributed to the cause of the accident. This determination is typically linked to traffic citations or criminal acts the driver might have committed. For example, a police officer might issue traffic tickets for speeding, DUI, or following too closely for conditions.
If a driver violated the law, they could face criminal penalties for a fatal car accident and be financially responsible for the victim’s damages. However, the criminal case and the wrongful death case are tried separately in two different courts.
Complete a Police Report for the Fatal Car Accident
Texas requires police officers to complete a written crash report whenever an accident involves a death, injury, or property damage of $1,000 or more. The traffic crash report contains information about the accident including, but not limited to:
- Date and time of the crash
- Location of the accident
- Identifying information for drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses
- Description and details for each car involved in the crash
- Notations regarding contributing factors of how the crash occurred
- Whether drivers were charged with a traffic violation
Crash reports for fatal car accidents are usually very detailed, including photographs, diagrams, measurements, and other details and evidence collected at the accident scene. Your Fort Worth wrongful death lawyer will obtain a copy of the police report as part of their independent investigation into the cause of the accident.
What Should You Do After a Fatal Car Accident in Fort Worth, TX?
The days and weeks following a fatal car crash can be overwhelming for the family. There are many details to address. Hiring a Fort Worth wrongful death lawyer can relieve you of the necessity of dealing with insurance companies and other details regarding the accident.
Your attorney investigates the accident to gather evidence proving fault and liability for the car accident. They also handle communications with insurance companies and other parties regarding the accident so you can focus on grieving the loss of a loved one.Texas wrongful death laws allow family members to seek compensation for damages when someone takes the life of their loved one through negligence, intentional torts, or other wrongdoing. Allowing an experienced lawyer to file a wrongful death claim can help you seek justice from the person who caused the fatal car crash that took your family member’s life.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Fort Worth, TX
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Fort Worth and need legal help, contact our Fort Worth car accident lawyers at Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents to schedule a free consultation.
Stephens Law Personal Injury | Wrongful Death | Truck Accidents
1300 S University Dr # 300
Fort Worth, TX 76107