There are many ways fault for an accident may be determined. Examination of the damage to the vehicles involved in a crash is one of them. However, this is not as straightforward a method as one may think. There are several factors to consider.
Below, we discuss how vehicle damage may help build a strong case against the liable party.
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How Can Damage Help Determine Fault in an Accident?
There are two main factors to consider when determining fault for an accident based on the damage to the vehicles involved.
The first is the location of the damage to the vehicles. Where a vehicle is hit matters because it helps tell the story of how the accident may have happened. For example, damage to the back of one vehicle and the front of another establishes the accident was a rear-end collision.
The extent of the damage to the vehicles may help tell some more of that same story. Significant damage to the vehicles may help establish what speed the vehicles were traveling before colliding.
Who Determines What Damage to a Vehicle Means?
Although the damage to a vehicle may be obvious, what that damage means should be determined by someone with experience.
Generally, an adjuster will look at the vehicles and determine the cause of the accident as well as how much the damage is worth. It is important to keep in mind that the adjuster works for the insurance company. Therefore, he or she may come to a conclusion that generally favors the insurance company.
From your side of the case, your attorney may enlist help from an accident reconstruction expert. This person may be able to evaluate the location and extent of the damage to determine how the accident happened and who may be at fault. For example, the accident reconstructionist may determine whether one vehicle was speeding when the collision occurred.
This expert testimony may help strengthen your case for compensation.
Can Damage Alone Prove Fault for an Accident?
Although damage to the vehicles can be an important part of a case, it is not the only piece of evidence needed to prove fault.
If another vehicle ran a red light and T-boned your vehicle, the damage to each car does not prove the other driver violated a traffic law. To prove this, you may need testimony from witnesses or video evidence from a traffic camera.
Sometimes the damage to the vehicles may not be able to prove fault because all are damaged in the same way. One example of this is in a sideswipe collision, where both vehicles will have damage to the sides.
Only evaluating vehicle damage in these types of cases would make it impossible to determine fault.
It is also important to remember that you must prove more than just fault for a collision to recover compensation. You must be able to prove the other driver’s negligent actions directly resulted in your injuries.
How to Document Vehicle Damage After a Crash
After an accident, it is important to document the damage from all involved vehicles. Whether that damage can be used to prove fault or help tell part of the story, this is an important step to take.
You can document the damage by taking photos at the scene of the crash. In some instances, you may be injured, but still capable of getting the pictures. You should ensure you are in a safe location when taking the pictures, as you do not want to risk further injury or endanger others at the scene.
If you are unable to get photos from the crash due to your injuries, you may need to rely on others to document the damage. One way to do this is to ask for a vehicle inspection. Although the insurance adjuster will do this, you should consider getting someone who will not have a biased opinion.
You may also be able to take photos of the damage to your vehicle at the tow yard. In many cases, the vehicles involved in the crash get taken to the same tow yard. If you could not get photos at the scene, you may be able to take photos when you go to sign paperwork to release your vehicle to the appropriate party for repairs or replacement.
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Pursuing compensation after an injury can be stressful. The legal process is often overwhelming and complicated. Let our knowledgeable attorneys help.
Our lawyers have decades of experience investigating claims and building strong cases for compensation. We can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf or file a lawsuit if necessary.