This summer has been a deadly one on South Carolina roads. Officials report there have been a string of fatal hit-and-run pedestrian accidents as well as a number of multiple-vehicle crashes that turned deadly.
In each case, officials explain, they must spend weeks meticulously sifting through the evidence, using on-call response teams, the latest technology and careful scientific analysis.
The process can take weeks or even months, and law enforcement officials do know that this causes anxiety and even anxiousness over the results. People don’t understand why it’s taking so long, and they just want to know what happened. The process sometimes seems unnecessarily dragged out.
But careful analysis of the facts is important. What many people don’t understand is that legal teams – both criminal and civil – conduct their own analysis as well. This is why it’s imperative for those injured to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. The sooner your personal injury attorney can step in on a case, the fresher the evidence will be and the more likely we are to find evidence that can help to bolster your position.
Recently, the newspaper The State delved into the process used by law enforcement to analyze these cases. Although the conclusions of law enforcement can certainly be useful in a civil case, this investigation is not geared toward finding facts that will work in your favor. That’s why it’s important to have your lawyer conducting a separate investigation.
The State detailed how the South Carolina Highway Patrol dispatches a Multi-disciplinary Accident Investigation Team (or MAIT) to the scenes of some of the worst accidents. These on-call teams have the necessary equipment and expertise to properly preserve evidence and research accident causes.
They look at the color of the paint on vehicle doors, the skid mark angles and the movement patterns of the tread marks in the dirt. A standard accident investigation takes hours. These teams take weeks or months. They work to rule out natural causes and mechanical ones. They input data into updated software programs that allow them to generate computer animations of the crash.
Some local departments also utilize this same technology, and may choose to handle investigations themselves. However, the process is known to take even longer than those involving MAIT team investigations.
Once those reports are complete, they are turned over to prosecutors, who will then decide from there whether to file criminal charges.
However, the determination to pursue civil litigation is entirely separate. For example, if the prosecutor decides to proceed with a case, the civil lawsuit may go on at the same time. Even if a defendant is ordered to pay restitution in the criminal case, it will not affect the damages awarded to plaintiff at the conclusion of a civil case.
And even if the prosecutor chooses not to file criminal charges, a civil case may still go forward, as the proof burden is substantially lower. Plaintiff does not need the approval of a prosecutor to seek economic and non-economic damages from those responsible.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Investigations of deadly crashes in SC a painstaking process, Aug. 15, 2015, Joshua Lloyd, The State
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