Determining who is at fault in a car accident is essential to deciding who will pay for any damage caused by the accident. In general, the person at fault is the person whose negligence caused the accident, and this is the person who must typically pay for the damages.
One way to determine fault is by car accident damage.
The location of damage on a vehicle can say a lot about the accident. However, there are clear cases and then there are other, less straightforward scenarios. Damage on the car’s passenger side is usually a sign that the other driver is at fault, especially if the other car shows front-end damage. For example, the driver may have pulled out of a driveway without looking or ran a red light.
Location of the damage on the vehicles can also provide proof of a rear-end collision. This can be seen if the back of one car is damaged along with the front of the other. In most cases, a driver who hits another car from behind is at fault. Likewise, in a left turn accident, if there is damage on the front-end of one car and on the front-right side of the other, the car making the left turn is typically regarded at fault.
In other car accidents, determining fault by car accident damage can be more difficult. It may then be necessary to consult with an accident reconstruction expert. An accident reconstruction expert can help determine fault by closely examining the car accident damage. These experts have specific knowledge of physics, dynamics and engineering. Accident reconstruction experts who specialize in vehicles may obtain debris measurements, create models, and, even, re-create accidents in their effort to understand a vehicular accident.
Car accident damage is not the only factor these experts examine to determine fault. According to the American Prosecutors Research Institute (APRI), experts investigate issues such as steering wheel angles, headlights, anti-lock braking systems, sudden acceleration, crash worthiness, or point of impact. The nature of the accident victims’ injuries and factors such as speed and breaking, visual impairments, and weather conditions are also investigated. Additional factors include use of lights, turn signals, and cruise control. Witnesses are interviewed, and physical evidence such as tire marks are examined. Inspection of the road surface is also important, especially when traction has been lost due to black ice, spilled fuel, or obstacles such as road debris.
The best time to decide who is at fault is at the scene of the accident.