Determining Fault by the Location of Damage
Determining who was at fault in a car accident is a crucial step in the aftermath of the incident. This process, known as establishing “fault,” is particularly important in Nevada, a fault state. Here, the driver responsible for the accident is required to compensate the victims for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. If you’re found at fault, you can’t claim benefits from a liability insurance carrier, as they only pay out to those not responsible for collisions.
Fault can sometimes be clear-cut, such as when a driver admits to causing the accident. However, it can also be a point of contention, as each party’s ability to receive compensation hinges on attributing blame to the other driver. There are numerous ways to establish fault, and a wealth of evidence can be beneficial. Aside from a driver’s admission or video footage of the collision, your attorney will need to examine various pieces of evidence to demonstrate that you weren’t responsible for the accident. One such piece of evidence is the location of the damage on your car, which can provide significant insights into who was at fault.
The Story Told by Car Damage
Different types of car accidents will leave damage on different locations of your car. For instance:
- Head-on collision: This type of accident typically damages the front bumper of both involved cars.
- Rear-end collision: If you were rear-ended, your back bumper should show signs of damage, while the car that hit you should have damage on the front bumper.
- T-bone collision: Also known as a side-impact collision, your vehicle should be damaged on the side in this type of crash. The vehicle that hit you should have damage on its front bumper.
- Side-swipe: Both cars involved should have damage on their sides where the vehicles scraped together.
- Rollover: The location of the damage will depend on the circumstances. Some vehicles roll onto their sides after being struck in the rear, on the side, or even in the front. The vehicle that clipped you could have damage in different locations.
What Your Car’s Damage Can Reveal
When it comes to determining fault by the location of damage, we can attempt to reconstruct the collision and assign fault for the crash based on the damage analysis. A vehicle moving in a certain direction at a specific speed should sustain particular damage when it collides with another vehicle. By examining the damage to both vehicles, we can start to piece together how the accident happened.
In some cases, the damage sustained during an accident can clearly indicate how it occurred. For instance, in a head-on collision, both vehicles will have damage to their front fenders, making it obvious they collided at that point of impact. In other situations, the cause may not be as clear, but examining the damage can help eliminate certain possibilities. For instance, if your vehicle rolls over, the damage may not reveal the exact cause of the flip onto its hood or side.
Why Damage Alone Can’t Prove Fault in an Accident
Even if it’s clear how an accident unfolded, that doesn’t automatically prove fault. There are times when determining fault becomes less clear, such as:
The damage to your vehicle indicates that you were rear-ended by the car behind you. You might assume that its driver is automatically at fault for the accident. Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward. While the trailing vehicle will often be at fault in many accidents, it’s not always the case.
For example, the vehicle trailing behind might not have been tailgating and might have left several seconds of distance, just as all of us are taught in driver’s education. Unfortunately, while driving along, the car in front suddenly slams on its brakes without any warning and for no apparent reason. Unsurprisingly, the car traveling behind does not have sufficient time to brake, so it barrels into the car in front of it.
Who is at fault for this rear-end collision? In this situation, the trailing vehicle is probably not at fault for the collision even if it struck the car. The car in front is much more likely at fault for the accident because the driver behaved in a reckless and dangerous manner by immediately hitting the brakes.
Another simple example involves Vehicle A which has been T-boned at an intersection by Vehicle B. Based on the damage, you can see that one vehicle clearly struck another. But is that the fault of Vehicle B? In this case, everything depends on who had the right of way. If Vehicle A ran a red light, then it is probably at fault for the accident even if it suffered a side impact. Conversely, the driver of Vehicle B might be at fault if he ran a red light and struck Vehicle A in the side.
As these examples show, sometimes a vehicle can strike another vehicle and not be at fault. How to tell who sideswiped who becomes more difficult and more evidence is needed. What a jury must ultimately determine is whose actions are responsible for the collision and whether the actions the driver took were reasonable. Simply looking at the damage to your vehicle does not 100% always give you answers to these questions.
Additional Evidence Needed to Determine Fault
Examining the damage to your vehicle is an important piece of the puzzle, but it’s not the only one. Your car accident attorney will also need to carefully assess other information to determine which driver’s careless or reckless conduct caused the car accident, such as:
- Witness testimony. Passengers, drivers, and anyone else who saw the crash can offer important testimony about what happened. For example, a passenger might admit that a driver did not put on a turn signal or that a driver was speeding. These actions can make a driver responsible for a collision.
- Debris on the road: Sometimes, the way debris is scattered across the road can provide important clues about who is at fault. Skid marks are also critical pieces of information.
- Medical records. Medical records can also help prove the point of impact. A person who suffered whiplash probably was struck from behind, whereas a passenger who suffered a broken right arm might have been hit from the right.
- Surveillance video. Sometimes video captures the accident and can show what happened.
- Cell phone records. These records might show that a motorist was talking on the phone or sending a text message when the accident occurred—negligent conduct that can make them liable for the crash.
Each case is unique, and the evidence you need to prove fault will differ by the circumstances. This is why it is vital that you meet with a seasoned Las Vegas car accident attorney to review your case. Your lawyer will know what other evidence you need to complete the puzzle of who is legally liable for the collision.
Because your attorney will need to look at your vehicle, it is critical that you avoid having your car fixed immediately after your crash. Your attorney cannot see the damage once the vehicle is repaired.
To help document the crash, remember to call the police to the scene of the accident. An officer can provide helpful information in a police report which you can introduce later into evidence. An officer should also speak to all drivers involved in the crash and get their stories about what happened.
You should also take evidence at the scene of the accident. For example, you should take pictures of:
- Damage to the other vehicle. Walk around and take pictures from every side. If necessary, zoom in to capture detail. Remember that the other driver might have their vehicle repaired before your lawyer can look at it, so getting pictures is vital.
- Skid marks or debris in the road.
- Anything that might have contributed to your collision, such as obscured or missing stop signs, malfunctioning stop lights, vehicles parked on the road, etc.
Be safe, and take more pictures than you might need, rather than fewer. If you’re too injured to move, ask someone else to take these pictures.
You can also take pictures of your injuries soon after the accident. Bruising is very dramatic and can illustrate where on your body you suffered a traumatic impact, which, in turn, helps establish which side of the vehicle was hit.
Your Right to an Inspection
As mentioned above, the other driver might quickly have their vehicle repaired, which means any damaged evidence will be lost. However, not all motorists will quickly fix their vehicles. Many might put off repairs for weeks or months, giving you time to inspect the vehicle.
Nevada law allows you to request an inspection using Nevada Rule of Civil Procedure 34. You must file this request in court, which means you need a lawsuit already filed on record. If you want to inspect the other vehicle, move quickly. Hire an attorney to file a lawsuit for compensation and then request an inspection pursuant to this rule.
Because modeling how an accident unfolds is complicated, many cases require the help of an accident reconstruction expert. These professionals can gather all the available evidence and reconstruct the seconds before a collision. They can also explain their findings to a judge or jury, often using visual aids such as a 3-D model or a computer simulation.
Accident reconstruction experts help bring accidents alive for people who were not there to witness them. An accident reconstruction expert is not necessary in every case. Indeed, many car accident cases are pretty straightforward and do not require any expert help at all. But in certain situations, a reconstruction expert can make the difference between winning a case and losing one.
One of the advantages of working with an established Las Vegas law firm like Naqvi Injury Law is that we have access to credible expert witnesses. An expert witness should not only have sterling educational credentials but must also be able to explain complicated concepts to a jury in a simple manner. At Naqvi, we have worked with many accident reconstruction experts and know how to find one who will be a good fit for your case.
The Naqvi Injury Law Difference
Every car accident presents unique challenges that can make receiving compensation difficult. That’s why you need the help of an experienced lawyer.
At Naqvi Injury Law, we have an impressive track record of success. Some of our results include:
- Our client, who was rear-ended by a large truck, was awarded a substantial settlement of $2.9 million in their motor vehicle accident case.
- A settlement of $2.5 million for a client who endured neck and back injuries after being hit by a driver under the influence.
- A settlement of $1.425 million was achieved for a client who was rear-ended by a driver who was intoxicated.
- A $970,000 award for a client T-boned at an intersection, suffering neck and back injuries.
These are only some of the many favorable awards we have obtained. Although every case is different—and we cannot guarantee any result—we believe these results testify to our experience and knowledge at proving fault in a car accident.
Contact Naqvi Injury Law Today
If you have been hit by a driver, it’s important to begin thinking about how to receive compensation right away. Although you might be in pain and need to focus on getting better, it’s all the more reason to contact a Las Vegas car accident attorney as soon as possible.
At Naqvi Injury Law, we offer a free consultation to all potential clients. You can meet with one of our attorneys in person or speak with them over the phone. We’ll ask you questions about your case and answer any questions you might have.
If we believe your case has merit and you decide to hire us, we’ll start working immediately to preserve evidence and build your case for compensation. But we need to hear from you first.
Please call us, or clear here, to schedule your free initial consultation.