The Anatomy of a Crash Investigation

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Investigating the cause of road accident

An accident investigation involves many tasks to help determine what caused a car accident. By uncovering what actually took place, an investigation could ultimately help prevent similar accidents from taking place in the future. However, to determine the true cause of an accident, the process entails a variety of steps and can be challenging to complete, requiring experts to conduct thorough investigations.

The Requirements of a Crash Investigation

Crash investigators need to develop a process with three main goals in mind, including:

  • Determining the root cause of the accident
  • Finding facts as opposed to faults
  • Implementing changes to prevent future accidents of a similar nature

Additionally, crash investigation experts must establish a policy ensuring that all car accidents and even close calls will undergo an equally thorough investigation. They also must audit investigations to make sure they’re completed sufficiently and on time.

The Steps for a Crash Investigation

In a crash investigation, the process will involve several key steps. The steps are:

Background Investigation

This part of the process entails reviewing the records of individuals whose actions contributed to the crash. In addition, investigators will review reports of injuries or damage to property that occurred because of the accident.

This step also involves gathering witness lists, along with information about the conditions of the area, including maps.

Site Investigation

After the background investigation, investigators will conduct a site investigation. This starts by arriving at the scene of the accident as soon as possible after the accident takes place. Investigators will also restrict the accident scene to authorized individuals.

Investigators then gauge how other factors may have altered the scene following the accident, including weather or traffic. They may also draw certain elements of the scene to keep track of where certain property or equipment is in relation to the accident, or where actions that contributed to the accident may have taken place.

Investigators also take photographs of the scene, including any damaged areas and property. 


Following the site investigation, it’s time to interview witnesses and others involved in the accident, either directly or indirectly. All interviews are conducted in private settings to minimize distractions, and their goal is to determine the who, what, when, why, where, and how of the accident.

Following all of these steps, investigators will analyze and report their findings, which may help prevent future accidents. 

About the Author

Kurt D. Lloyd is a plaintiff’s trial lawyer who focuses on medical malpractice and other catastrophic injury cases. He lives in Chicago and represents injured clients throughout Illinois. He is also the founder of Lloyd Law Group, Ltd.

Chicago accident lawyer Kurt D. Lloyd