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Accident Investigation Getting Facts to Make Decisions

Accident Investigation Getting Facts to Make Decisions

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Accident Investigation Getting Facts to Make Decisions

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  1. Accident InvestigationGetting Facts to Make Decisions Presented by: Daecher Consulting Group Inc.

  2. HOW TO MANAGE ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION • Conducting the Investigation • Investigate every accident or injury • Investigate immediately • Develop preventative plans • Why Investigate • Collect evidence / facts • Objective determination of preventability • Determination of root cause • Implementation of corrective actions • Assessment of liability

  3. BASIS PRELIMINARIES FOR SUCCESSFUL ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION • Be a “Columbo” • Thin 5 “Ws” (Who, What, When, Where & Why) and “H” (How) • Key Mission - Investigate • Key Result – Document Evidence

  4. Common events are: 1.Point of possible perceptionB where a normally attentive person could have perceived the hazardous situation. Always comes at or before the point of perception. 2.Point of perceptionB where the (potentially) hazardous situation is actually perceived by the driver or pedestrian involved. 3.EncroachmentB is movement into the path assigned to another traffic unit. Example: crossing the centerline. 4.Start of evasive actionB the first action taken by a traffic unit to avoid a collision course or otherwise avoid a hazard. 5.Point of no escapeB that place and time beyond which the accident cannot be prevented by the traffic unit. The position of this point in the chain of events can vary considerably. 6.First Harmful EventB “the first occurrence in a traffic accident that results in appreciable damage or injury; the occurrence determining the time and place of the accident; usually the first contact in impact.” 7.Initial contactB the first accidental touching of an object collided with by a traffic unit in motion. 8.Maximum engagementB the greatest collapse or overlap in a collision. The deepest penetration of the perimeter of the traffic unit. 9.DisengagementB separation of a traffic unit in motion from an object with which it has collided. Note: May have repeated contacts where #7, #8, and #9 are repeated in the second collision. 10. Stopping and final positionB where the vehicles come to rest; the accident situation is stabilized.  ELEMENTS OF AN ACCIDENT (CHAIN OF EVENTS)


  6. ANATOMY OF AN ACCIDENT Phase 1: Pre-Impact • Ability to Make Appropriate Decision • Perception / Reaction (Conspicuity) • Attempt to Avoid • Attempt to Stop

  7. ANATOMY OF AN ACCIDENT Phase 2: Impact • Damage • Injury • Speed and Direction Changes • “Crash Worthiness” of Objects

  8. ANATOMY OF AN ACCIDENT Phase 3: Post-Impact • Movement of Vehicle to Point of Rest • Occupant Movements / Additional Injury • Vehicle / Occupant “Containment”

  9. FOUR BASIC ELEMENTS OF ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION • Scene Clues • Skid marks • Gouge marks • Points of impact • Debris • Fixed object locations and damage

  10. FOUR BASIC ELEMENTS OF ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION • Physical Damage Clues • Vehicle damage and direction of force • Mechanical defects • Tire and wheel damage • Gouge matching

  11. FOUR BASIC ELEMENTS OF ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION • Injury Clues • Determine injuries to drivers and passengers • Use medical reports and autopsy reports • Trace “injury path” to forces applied at time of impact and damage

  12. FOUR BASIC ELEMENTS OF ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION • Geometric and Traffic Regulatory Clues • Geometric deficiencies • Surface deficiencies • Signing location and deficiencies • Detail traffic control operations • Street lighting location and deficiencies • Construction zones • Sight distances • Sight obstructions

  13. ACCIDENT SCENE EVIDENCE • Debris • Pavement scars • Roadside damage • Tire marks

  14. LOCATING IMPACT AREA • Critical for Proper Assessment • Debris • Liquids • Gouges • Scratches • Tire Marks

  15. TIRE MARKS • Prints • Skids • Scuffs

  16. EXAMPLES OF SKIDS Skip Skid Straight Skid Off-Set Skid Intermittent Skid

  17. EXAMPLES OF SKIDS Centrifugal or Sideslid Skid Yaw Skid



  20. 5.Construction Zones - Advanced warning - Cone/barrel placement - Equipment & crew - Work zone speeds 6.Traffic Control Signs - placement - absence - readability - appropriateness Traffic Signals - Visibility - operation sequence - clearance intervals 7.Street Lighting - Placement - Intensity - Maintenance 8.Pedestrian/Bicycle - Facilities - Sidewalks - Crosswalks 1.View Obstructions - On the road - Off the road - Roadway contours - Intersections 2.Reduced Visibility - Darkness - Fog/smoke - Heavy snow or rain - Glare 3.Surface Conditions - Slipperiness - Ruts - Holes - Curbs - Shoulders - Railroad crossing 4.Road Alignment - Curves - Road widths - Bridges TRAFFICWAY CONDITIONS THATCAN CONTRIBUTE TO AN ACCIDENT

  21. PHOTOGRAPHY WHY PHOTOGRAPH? a.To record information for later use. b.To assist memory c.To impeach principles and witness=s d.To support or discredit testimony e.Unbiased f. Accurate

  22. PHOTOGRAPHY ACCIDENT SCENES a.Overall of scene b.Facing direction of vehicles approach c.Area of impact d.Fixed object damage e.Sight distances f.Sight Obstructions g.Road Condition h.Any evidence which you are about to secure i.points of rest of vehicles, objects, people ii.tire marks iii.metal scars iv.debris v.fluid marks i. Any other conditions or items that may be of importance


  24. PHOTOGRAPHY VEHICLES • a. Basic 4 of each unit • b.close ups of areas of damage to each unit • c.Interior • i.Seats • ii.Dashboard • iii.Gearshift • iv.important items (alcohol, drugs, etc.) 


  26. IMPORTANCE OF ACCIDENT SCENE DIAGRAMS • Visual clarity of accident • Basic file / report information • Easily useable by others for additional investigative purposes

  27. ACCIDENT MEASURING PROCEDURE I. Decide if measurements are necessary II. Photograph the scene III. Locate the temporary evidence IV.Locate and mark each point to be measured, including: a.Start of skid marks b. Skid mark direction changes c. Skid mark crossings d. Vehicle wheel positions at first rest       e. Gouges in the roadway        f. Major debris points V.Make a field sketch of the accident scene 

  28. WHAT IS A COMPLETE INVESTIGATION • Scene • Property damage • Injury information • Highway design / workplace clues • Maintenance / accident history • CVO information and interpretation • Driver interview / statement • Statements of other involved parties • Witness interview / statements

  29. INTERVIEW GUIDELINES When taking a statement from someone who has been involved in an accident or who has witnessed an accident it is important to remember that any guide is simply that, aguide that assists in covering certain important elements for any type of accident. There cannot be one guide for all accidents. The cooperative nature of the person giving the statement and whether they have a vested interest in the outcome may affect how the questions are answered. Preparation is vital in securing a good and thorough statement. This same guide can be used for witnesses as well as those directly involved. Remember, statements of minors should not be taken unless in the presence of or with a parent or guardian. Introduce yourself. Help the person be at ease as much as possible. Try not to write answers while you question, as it can be very distracting. A tape-recorded statement can be taken and is the best. It is in the subject=s own voice and words. It is his/her exact statement. Ask the person to state their full name; age; address; phone number; occupation; and how they can be reached at a later time. Ask how the accident happened from the beginning. Pre-accident events, where they were coming from and going to. Details of the accident. What attracted their attention to the accident? Did they actually see the accident? Post accident events. Where the vehicles came to rest. How many persons in the vehicles involved. Did they hear any statements from any of the drivers involved; what were they. If they are a driver, what happened and what was their perception of the accident causation. For a witness, be sure to ascertain exactly where the witness was and how far they were from the accident. Restate the accident as it was just described to you, then ask the person if your understanding is accurate to the best of their knowledge. Ask for a description of all damage and injuries as a result of the accident. Ask for the names and locations of all those involved or those who could have witnessed the accident. If names are unknown, ask for a physical description of all parties. Ask who responded to the accident and when, secure names, badge numbers, etc. for identification. Ask if there were any type of controls or safety devices not in use that were available (machinery guards, traffic controls, warning signs posted, non-skid strips on flooring, etc.) Ask for their opinion as to why the accident occurred and who or what caused or is at fault for the accident. Ask if there is anything they would like to add or change to what they have already said.

  30. INVESTIGATION RESULTS • Photos / vehicles • Measurements • Collection of evidence • Statements • Documents

  31. IMPORTANT ELEMENTS IN THE FORMATION OF OPINIONS • Post accident vehicle movement • Point of impact • Skid marks /evidence of braking previous to impact • Human factors • Documents • Reference sources and materials

  32. HOW OPINIONS ARE FORMED • Statements • Measurements • Photographs • Calculations • “Standards of Knowledge” • Facility review • Operational review

  33. ADVANCED PREPARATION • Use checklists • Accident Report Checklist • Driver’s Post-Accident Checklist • Dispatcher/Supervisor Post-Accident Checklist • Investigator’s Post-Accident Checklist

  34. Chalk or crayon Hand-held tape recorder Road maps Clipboard / graph paper / pencil Accident investigator’s template Tire gauge / tread depth indicator Safety vest Gloves Rain gear / boots Flashlight Camera (35 mm or digital) and flash One 100’ tape and 12’ tape Rolotape ITEMS NEEDEDFOR SCENE INVESTIGATIONS

  35. WHAT TO DO AT THE SCENE • BE SAFE! • Coordinate with claims adjuster • Talk to driver • Inspect the scene • Inspect vehicles and other damaged property • Secure evidence • Talk to police • Talk to witnesses • Detail on-site claims activity

  36. HANDLING THE MEDIA • Stay in control • Be professional • DO NOT admit liability • Facts – use carefully • State why your are there (investigate) • State what your purpose is (take appropriate action) • State where you are at (it’s too early to know what actually happened)

  37. INVESTIGATION BY I. A.’s • Timeliness • Complete investigation • Investigate statements • You control and direct