Can Vehicle Damage Determine Fault in a Car Accident?

Vehicle damage after a car accident provides important information, which can certainly help when determining fault.  It may not prove fault entirely on its own, but it can add credence to other evidence.  

New York is a no-fault insurance state, which means the motorist’s own insurance company pays for medical expenses and lost wages. However, when severe injuries result from a crash, the victim may go outside the state system and pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

At Douglas and London, we will investigate your case and help you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries. Our experienced New York City personal injury lawyers have recovered millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our clients.

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Vehicle Damage

Accident investigators rely a great deal on vehicle damage when conducting their investigation. They look for “impact points” on the car, and the location of them reveals essential information. Certain types of damage are usually clear indicators of fault. For example, if the passenger side of the vehicle bears damage, often referred to as a T-bone collision– that generally means the other driver was at fault.

Perhaps they ran a stop sign or traffic signal or pulled out of a driveway without looking. However, it is also possible that the driver of the T-boned car did not have the right of way at the time. The same holds for rear-end collisions. Usually, the car in the back hitting another vehicle is at-fault, but there are always exceptions.

Left-turn accidents are among the most common types of collisions. These, too, generally show which driver is at fault.  Damage usually reveals that if one vehicle has front end impact points, while the other was impacted on the front right, the driver attempting to make a left-hand turn is at-fault.

A badly damaged car may indicate that the other driver was speeding at the time of the crash, while one with only minor dents may show the other driver was driving the speed limit. Small dents may also establish that the driver just about succeeded in braking– but was unable to do so completely.

When the accident is a sideswipe, both vehicles will exhibit damage on their sides. The location can reveal which car hit the other. Also, experts examine many different systems, besides damage to the body. Steering wheel angles at the time of the impact show a great deal, as do the condition and functionality of the headlights, directional signals, cruise control, and brakes. An experienced personal injury lawyer can make use of this information to help you make the best possible case in court.

Physics and Engineering

Accident investigators are trained in physics and engineering. This knowledge and experience tell them that a car traveling in a particular direction at a specific speed will sustain specific damage at the time of impact. The vehicles’ “final rest positions” on the accident scene are other prime indicators of fault. All of the data collected by the reconstructionists is scientifically analyzed and submitted as a report.

Other Critical Evidence

As noted, while vehicle damage is a significant component of assessing fault in a motor vehicle crash, it is far from the sole determinator. Other vital factors include:

  • Police reports
  • Eyewitness accounts
  • Weather conditions
  • Road conditions
  • Driver statements
  • Accident scene photos or videos
  • Medical evidence

If the crash was caught on surveillance video, it would obviously provide valuable information. Cellphone records can reveal that a driver was talking or texting at the time of the crash. The bottom line is that every car accident is unique, and various pieces of evidence are necessary to determine fault.

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Contact Douglas and London today

When it comes to determining fault, the New York City car accident lawyers at Douglas and London perform a thorough investigation on behalf of the client. Call or text us today to arrange a free consultation or use our online contact form. We will evaluate your case and advise you of your options going forward. Since we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless we win compensation for you.