A Special Collision Reconstruction Team is investigating my truck accident – who are they?
In the aftermath of almost any reported road accident, police will gather information and perform an investigation. The primary purpose of this investigation is to determine if a crime has taken place, including if any reckless or criminally negligent behavior was a significant cause of the accident. However, the responding officers also attempt to determine what caused the collision.
Investigating officers, often called a Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team (SCRT), are trained officials whose job it is to investigate major injury and fatality wrecks throughout the state of Georgia. They gather evidence, speak with witnesses, photograph the scene, take measurements, and mark the roadway. These actions help reconstruct, as best they can, how and why the collision occurred.
Often, law firm-hired accident investigators conduct their own inquiry, utilizing many of the same technologies employed by the SCRT team. The threshold for civil negligence is lower than for criminal negligence, so the private investigators will be examining factors that the police teams may overlook.
If you have been involved in a major accident, it may be in your best interest to conduct your own private investigation with the assistance of experienced Atlanta truck accident lawyers. The results of this investigation may prove vital to an injury claim that seeks to recover all of your losses from a negligent party.
Call (404) 869-1580 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation case review now.
How Long Will the Accident Investigation Take?
If an accident has minor property damage or only suspected minor injuries, chances are that police investigations will all but cease after the police report is filed. Typically, it takes 7-10 days for the initial police crash report to be completed.
If the collision involves a major injury or fatality the accident may be investigated by a SCRT. These investigations can take six to eight weeks to complete, and sometimes much longer. After the investigation is complete, the information is sent to the prosecutor’s office along with a recommendation of any appropriate charges.
For cases involving DNA evidence or other extensive lab work, the investigation process can go on for months. However, don’t interpret this to mean that SCRT investigators are actively engaging with the case. They often take on multiple cases at once, and once the initial evidence is gathered and witnesses are questioned in the first few weeks, the team will wait on the remaining lab work before concluding the investigation.
Can I Assume the SCRT Will Be on My Side?
The evidence police investigators obtain can be vital to a civil case involving a personal injury claim, but this does not mean that the police have the same objectives as you.
In fact, police investigations are usually only trying to conclude three things, according to an interview with a police sergeant in the Kansas City Star.
- Whether someone involved in the crash was committing a felony or fleeing from the commission of a felony and if these actions caused the crash
- Whether someone was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and if this led to the crash
- Whether a driver involved was being reckless or criminally negligent, and if these actions led to a death or serious injury
If the police don’t suspect any of the above three, they may dial back the resources used to investigate the crash. This is especially common if the accident did not result in death or life-threatening injury.
Further, while the final point may seem to be a bright spot for someone trying to prove negligence, the police have a much higher standard to clear in order to prosecute. Someone may be negligent in the civil sense that makes them liable for the injuries they cause, but they may not be guilty of criminal conduct.
On top of this, the SCRT investigation may reveal evidence that seems to dispute your account or point to your own negligence. For instance, a witness at the scene may argue that you rolled through a stop sign when you don’t recall doing so.
For these reasons and more, truck accident victims should treat police investigators as just one available resource for obtaining evidence to use in their personal injury case. They should actively seek out their own investigation and look for details that police may not be as interested in, such as the due diligence of the trucking company in hiring the driver, the number of hours the truck driver had been on the road, and a host of other factors.
What if the SCRT Investigation Turns up Evidence That’s Not in My Favor?
Any evidence obtained in a police investigation can potentially be used by either side of an injury claim. However, unless someone has been found guilty in a criminal proceeding, evidence of a suspected crime or wrongdoing is not proof of that wrongdoing. Therefore, if a truck driver was suspected of driving under the influence at the time of the accident but was not prosecuted for DUI, then police-obtained evidence only carries as much weight as its ability to convince a civil jury during an injury claim.
In other words, police evidence that points to your negligence or wrongdoing can complicate your case, but it won’t serve as proof of anything unless you have been convicted of a crime.
Work With a Truck Accident Lawyer in Atlanta To Conduct Your Own Investigation
Police investigators can be tremendously helpful during a crash investigation, but they often do not have the same goals or priorities as the injury victim. Those who are injured should look out for their own interests by hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help them investigate the accident and build a strong civil case for liability.
Truck accidents can have serious consequences and tremendous costs. Trucking companies and insurers will fight as hard as they can to avoid paying for these costs, including twisting statements and evidence obtained during a SCRT investigation.
Work with an experienced Atlanta truck attorney to prepare for these tactics and assemble evidence of your own. You can find out more about your legal options and what strategies you can use to maximize your chances of receiving compensation when you call (404) 869-1580 or contact us online to schedule a free case review today.