How to Handle an Automobile Casualty

When a loved one dies, life suddenly becomes very confusing and frustrating. On top of the grief, emotions and sadness, you now are in the process of planning and arranging a funeral service. This time may be extremely overwhelming, and often times many issues might be overlooked because of the rush.

We are here to help. We have outlined a few topics that are very important when it comes to a sudden death by the way of  automobile accidents.

When a fatality has occurred in a car accident, an incident report is created by officials. It will contain very important information.

Some of the details included will be:

  • Case Number
  • Date and Time of Incident
  • Name of Information of the Investigating Officer
  • Officer notifying family members
  • Coroner’s Information
  • The location of the deceased
  • Police hold and location of vehicle

You will be given information about the location of your loved one. Depending on the severity of the situation, there are different routes that might be taken.

Typically the body is transported to the coroner who was at the scene. If an autopsy is necessary, the body of the deceased may be transported to a pathologist.

If an autopsy is necessary, the coroner or county attorney will be able to make arrangements for the family members to view the deceased body before the autopsy. Once the arrangements and autopsy are preformed, the body is then transported to the funeral home.

When dealing with an automobile accident, the vehicle will probably contain personal belongings. The towing company can remove them for you, or a family member might be able to retrieve them. If  law enforcement has put a hold on the vehicle, there might be  a delay in the process.

A few things to consider:

  • Most fatal accidents are investigated, and often times reconstructed to determine the reason the crash happened. This process is very critical, time-consuming and can take anywhere from three weeks to six months.
  • If you wish to receive a copy of the investigation or crash report, you may ask for one from your law enforcement agency.
  • Any questions you may have about the incident or investigation report should be directed to the officer listed on the incident report.
  • Often times, cases will be reviewed by the county attorney. You can ask to stay in contact with the agency investigating the case at any time.

If your case involves a criminal investigation, the process could move very slowly because they are often very complex cases.

  • If a criminal investigation  is taking place with your case, you may want to contact a victim’s rights advocate through the county attorney to help you navigate the criminal court system, which can be difficult and confusing.
  • Some cases may end up in a civil court. If you or your family have any questions about the civil court process, you can consult with an attorney who specializes in this practice.

Once you have chosen the funeral home where the service will take place, you will be working with a funeral director to plan the arrangements. The funeral director will work along side of the family to make the process as easy as possible. Your funeral director will ask for general information to include on the obituary.

A few more things to keep in mind

  • When deciding on whether you will have the towing company or a family member retrieve the deceased belongings from the vehicle, take caution that it may still have disturbing evidence of the crash inside, making it a difficult task for someone who is close the deceased.
  • Calling the auto insurance company is a good idea to find if the policy covers any of the funeral service costs.  If  your loved one is considered a victim of crime, such as criminal vehicle homicide, DWI, BUI or felony hit and run, you should contact the county attorney. There may be funds available to aid in the medical or funeral costs.
  • The family of the deceased is still in control of which funeral home they will use for the services.


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