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Can Fault Be Determined by the Damage from a Car Accident?

August 18, 2021Car Accidents

After an accident is reported, the insurance companies involved will begin their investigation. They will take statements from drivers, passengers, and witnesses and look at photographs of the scene, if available, and the damage caused. One helpful piece of evidence is the location of the damage on your car, which can yield important clues about who is to blame.

Using Vehicle Damage to Prove Accident Liability

Different types of car accidents will leave damage on specific locations of the vehicles involved. For example:

  • Rear-end Collision: If you were rear-ended, there will be damage to your back bumper and the vehicle’s front bumper that hit you.
  • T-bone Collision: Also called a side-impact collision, which will damage the side of your car, and the other vehicle that hit you should have damage on its front bumper.
  • Head-On Collision: This type of crash will damage the front of both vehicles, making it hard to prove fault by only the damage. However, if most of your damage is to one side of the front of your car, it may indicate that you attempted to swerve out of the way. If the other vehicle’s damage is in the front center, it may show that they were not paying attention and didn’t see you coming. 
  • Side-Swipe: Each vehicle involved will have damage on its side where they came into contact. Determining fault is more challenging in these accidents based on property damage alone. However, there is often damage to the front driver side of one car in a sideswipe crash, and that shows the vehicle was in control of the direction it was going in. 

Determining who is at fault by damage location alone isn’t always cut and dry. When there are more than two vehicles involved or if the car in front drove negligently, the damage may not be enough to get the complete picture of what happened. For example, a driver unnecessarily slams their brakes with no warning, and the driver behind them crashes into them. In this scenario, the driver in the back may not be at fault, but the damage location alone will not be enough to show that. 

Accident Reconstruction 

When determining fault from the damage in a car accident is difficult, it may be necessary to consult with an accident reconstruction expert. This type of expert can help determine fault with their knowledge of physics, dynamics, and engineering. They will closely examine the vehicle damage, the accident scene, take measurements, look for skid marks, and consider the injuries people suffered. Accident reconstruction experts can create models and even recreate an accident with software simulation to help prove who is at fault. 

Other Evidence Needed to Determine Fault 

Although damage from a car accident will be critical in proving fault, there are other pieces of evidence an attorney will use to build a solid case, such as:

  • Photos of the scene: photos and video footage are vital since evidence quickly disappears after a crash. 
  • Witness Testimony
  • Medical Records
  • Surveillance video (if available)
  • Cell Phone Records
  • Police Report

Each car accident case is unique, and the evidence you need to prove fault will differ by the circumstances.

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