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Can Fault be Determined by Car Accident Damage?

by  on  Car Accidents & Motor Vehicle Collisions

It can be difficult to prove how a car accident happened and who is to blame in the aftermath. Especially in cases involving multiple vehicles and various factors that may have contributed to the collision. The more time that passes the harder the task of determining fault.

Fortunately, there is a wide range of evidence that can be used in many cases to establish legal liability for an auto accident. That often includes the physical damage to the vehicles involved, whether it is captured by photos, video or witness statements.

A Denver car accident lawyer at Levine Law can help you identify those responsible for a crash and proactively seek compensation for your injuries. Our attorneys combine decades of experience in car and other accident cases and have an extensive track record of successful results.

What Car Damage Can Tell You About an Accident

Car accident cases usually feature various accounts of how the crash happened and competing theories about who is actually to blame. That is one reason why physical evidence is so important to reach the truth.

Vehicle damage, for example, can help investigators go back and essentially recreate the crash. The type of damage, the part of a vehicle that is damaged and the severity of the damage can all provide vital information.

Car accidents happen in a number of different ways, causing damage to various parts of a car.

    • Rear-end: The rear driver is often – but not always – to blame for these crashes, which routinely happen at low speeds. A car that has been rear-ended typically shows damage to the back bumper, while a vehicle that has rear-ended another car typically shows damage to the front bumper.
    • Head-on: When two cars collide head-on, both vehicles commonly incur damage to their front bumpers. 
    • T-bone: Side-impact crashes in which the front of one car collides with the side of another often occur when one driver blows through a red light or stop sign. The vehicle that was struck will have damage on either the passenger or driver’s side, while the other car will have damage to the front bumper.
    • Sideswipe: Each car involved in these kinds of accidents should have damage on its side where the two vehicles scraped together.
    • Rollover: Vehicle damage is often extensive when a car rolls over in a crash. Examining damage on the other car in the crash can reveal where it clipped the vehicle that rolled over.

Vehicle damage can indicate precisely how a crash happened in some cases. In other situations, it can be helpful to at least eliminate certain possibilities.

Severity and Location of Vehicle Damage

Crash scene investigators commonly focus on the severity of vehicle damage and the location of the damage on the car when piecing together how an accident happened. This can provide important insight into the direction in which the cars were going and the speed at which they were traveling at the time of the collision.

A relatively small or minor dent, for instance, may signal that the driver was traveling at low speed or coming to a stop at the time of the collision. More severe damage tends to indicate that the vehicle was traveling at high speed and did not have enough time to brake. That, in turn, could be a sign that the driver was intoxicated or distracted.

The location of the damage can be particularly insightful in rear-end crashes. That is because the rear driver is typically at fault in these accidents. Damage to a rear bumper, trunk and tailgate can paint a compelling picture.

Take Photos

Police responding to a car accident will typically compile a report, often taking into account witness statements and physical evidence like vehicle damage. Anyone involved in a car accident should take their own photos of the scene and get contact information from witnesses, if possible under the circumstances.

Memories fade, tire marks dull, and essential evidence becomes increasingly less available as time goes on after a crash. Photos provide key information that can make or break your case.

Take photos of the damage to the vehicles involved in the crash, but also try to capture the larger scene. That includes skid marks and damage to curbs and roadside barriers.

Why Vehicle Damage May Not Be Enough

Although damage to the cars involved in the crash can help determine fault, it is often not enough alone to conclusively establish who is to blame for the collision. That one vehicle struck another does not mean that the driver of the vehicle is necessarily the person who caused the accident.

In a T-bone accident, for instance, vehicle damage may very well confirm that the front of one car collided with the side of another. That does not necessarily establish whether one of the vehicles blew through a red light or the other car blocked the box at an intersection.

A wide range of other evidence is often crucial to establishing fault. That includes other physical evidence at the crash scene, as well as police and medical reports, video surveillance, dashcam footage and witness statements. In some cases, a driver’s previous traffic infractions records and license status may be helpful. In others, evidence about what a driver was doing in the time leading up to the crash may also come into play.

Speak With a Denver Car Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, a Denver car accident lawyer at Levine Law can help you fight back and get the compensation that you deserve. We are seasoned lawyers who have dedicated our careers to helping people and families get back on their feet after an accident.

We are pleased to represent clients throughout Colorado, including in Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins and Loveland. Call us at 303-333-8000 or contact us online to speak with a Denver car accident lawyer today.