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Can Fault Be Determined By Car Accident Damage?

Posted on October 10, 2018 by Kelly Wolford
Driver taking photo on the car damage due to accident.

Can fault be determined by car accident damage? Damage to a vehicle can play an essential role in proving fault for an accident. However, it by itself usually isn’t enough to establish fault.

Accident damage can tell investigators a vital part of a story, but it usually can’t tell the whole thing. If two drivers were involved, they may cause damage to each other’s vehicles, or only one car may be damaged. Vehicles can also be moved by an impact and may receive damage from other sources, such as utility poles, buildings, and parked cars.

Investigators look at the entire accident scene to determine fault. However, they may rely heavily on car accident damage to help their investigation. The type of damage, the severity of the damage, and the location of damage on a vehicle can tell them a lot.

Types of damage, such as scrapes and dents, can tell investigators how the vehicles may have come into contact. A scrape can tell investigators what parts of the cars came into contact and how they may have been moving relative to each other at the time of the collision. A dent can tell investigators how the cars may have been positioned right before a collision. These are not foolproof pieces of evidence for an investigation, but they can help.

Can Fault Be Determined By Car Accident Damage?

The severity of the damage can tell investigators important information. A minor dent may indicate that a driver was traveling at low speed or that the driver had nearly enough time to finish braking. Severe damage can tell investigators how fast a vehicle may have been traveling or how hard the car was hit. It could indicate that a driver was impaired by alcohol or distracted.

The location of the damage is often one of the most critical pieces of information for investigators. In an accident, the damage may tell investigators how the accident scene looked at the moment of impact. However, the location and severity of damage are often not enough to establish fault. For example, an impact on a passenger door on one vehicle shows that it was hit by another vehicle. However, the driver of the car that was hit could be at fault because the driver ran a red light.

In some cases, the location of damage can be very persuasive evidence of fault. In rear-end collision cases, the driver who rear-ended the other car is usually at fault. The car that was hit will usually have damage only to the rear bumper, trunk lid, or tailgate. In those cases, it may be easier for investigators to tell who caused the accident.

Accident Reconstruction

When investigators have trouble deciphering an accident scene, they may turn to accident reconstruction. This process involves the interpretation of observations and records about the accident scene and injuries that people received. Investigators may also rely on specifications and other technical information about the weight and steering of vehicles. Using these pieces of information and others, they can create a software simulation of the accident. Experts can then analyze the model and its results to give a picture of the crash.

Accident reconstruction can help lawyers and investigators determine who may have been at fault in an accident. Reconstruction can help take unreliable testimony out of the equation and replace it with thorough and accurate analysis.

The Importance of Taking Pictures

In any accident reconstruction, the more information the investigators have, the better. That’s why it is so important to take photos of the accident and its surroundings as soon as possible. If you’re involved in a crash and you can take pictures – or have a bystander take them for you – you can help your case.

Traffic accident scenes change quickly, so take pictures immediately after an accident if possible. Road crews may clean debris, weather and lighting conditions may change, and vehicles may be moved or damaged further by emergency responders.

Photos of the accident can help preserve critical pieces of information for investigators. Photos also document details that people may miss. They can allow investigators to see relevant information, such as the length of a skid mark or the direction a car was facing after impact.

Minor Damage Doesn’t Mean Minor Injuries

A lot can go wrong in a car accident. Even small cars are heavy, powerful machines that can injure and kill. When a car is involved in a collision, there are tremendous forces in play that can cause injuries far more severe than you may think. Minor damage may not capture the significant amount of force involved.

It isn’t just the amount of force in an accident that matters. How the force is absorbed and dispersed has a large impact on the well-being of occupants. For example, people often remark how older cars could be in accidents and not suffer much damage. But older vehicles often did a poor job of absorbing impact force and redistributing it. Instead, they transferred it to the occupants. This resulted in cars with little damage on the outside but severely injured people on the inside. Modern cars do a much better job of absorbing the impact and keeping occupants safe, but serious injuries remain a real possibility.

Safety equipment is also an important factor even in minor accidents. Airbags often save lives, but sometimes they can injure. Even if a car is in a minor accident, the airbag may deploy. A correctly functioning airbag can push a passenger and harm them. A faulty airbag can fail to protect or may even send high-speed debris at passengers.

No matter how minor or severe the damage in an accident is, serious injury can occur.

Contact Our Experienced Lawyers

Car accidents at any speed can lead to damage and injuries. At Powers & Santola, our experienced car accident lawyers have represented accident and injury victims throughout Upstate New York. It’s our goal to help our clients recover from the accident and rebuild their lives.

If you’ve suffered injury in a car accident, were prepared to help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.