Can Fault For a Crash Be Determined By Damage to the Cars?
Ryan Zavodnick | July 8, 2021 | Car Accidents
Under Pennsylvania personal injury laws, you cannot hold another driver financially liable for damages unless you prove the other driver caused the car wreck. Therefore, you need to gather evidence that proves the other driver was to blame for the car crash. Sometimes, car damage can help prove fault for the cause of the car accident.
Other evidence used to prove fault for a car accident might include:
- Statements made by each driver at the accident scene
- Videos of the car accident captured by traffic cameras or nearby surveillance cameras
- Statements made by eyewitnesses, including bystanders and passengers
- Information obtained from the vehicle’s onboard systems
- Copies of police reports and accident reports
- Road and weather conditions at the time of the car accident
In some cases, there may be very little evidence to support your claim that the other driver caused your car wreck. It could be your word against the other driver’s claims.
In that case, your car accident lawyer may recommend hiring an accident reconstructionist to identify how the crash occurred. Proving fault after a car accident is essential if you want to recover compensation for your damages and injuries.
Using Physical Evidence and Damage to Prove Fault for a Car Accident
During a collision, the vehicles involved may sustain property damage. The damage could be minor, such as a few dents and scratches. Or, the vehicle damage may be extensive and result in the vehicle being totaled.
The severity and location of vehicle damage can give accident experts insight into how the collision occurred. For example, damage to the side of one vehicle and the front of another vehicle indicates a T-bone accident. Most T-bone accidents occur because a driver failed to yield the right of way.
Damage to the rear of one vehicle and the front end of the other vehicle indicates a rear-end crash. Rear-end accidents are generally the result of distracted driving, tailgating, speeding, or other reckless driving behaviors.
Accident reconstructionists use the laws of physics, dynamics, and engineering to recreate how the collision occurred. They use the damage to the vehicles to assist in their reconstruction.
Other information that an accident reconstructionist may use to recreate the collision includes:
- The physical evidence from the crash scene
- Results of independent crashworthiness tests for each vehicle
- The design of the road and road conditions at the time of the crash
- A vehicle’s safety features, including antilock brakes, crash avoidance systems, and adaptive cruise control
- The weather conditions at the time of the accident
- Each person’s injuries
- The speed of each vehicle and visual impairments for the drivers
Experts can identify the factors that led to the crash and trace those factors back to the responsible driver.
Comparative Fault and Car Accidents
Another reason we need to obtain proof of who caused the car accident is because of comparative fault. Under these rules, an accident victim’s percentage of fault for a crash (if any) will reduce their overall compensation. However, if a person is 51% or more responsible for the accident, the victim is barred from recovering any money for damages.
The insurance company for the other driver may use a lack of evidence to raise allegations of comparative fault. It might try to shift all or some of the blame to you for the cause of the car accident. Any blame the insurance company can place on you saves it money.
If your percentage of fault is below 51 percent, you may still recover compensation for your injuries. However, the amount of money you receive is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you for causing the car accident.
In other words, the insurance company saves money by placing some of the blame for the car wreck on you. It does not matter that you did not cause the crash. The lack of evidence proving otherwise may be enough for a jury to side with the insurance company.
Therefore, working with experts to determine the cause of the crash is vital if we want to win the case.
Complex Accident Cases Require Skilled Legal Experience
If the other driver disputes liability, it is in your best interest to seek legal counsel from an experienced car accident lawyer. Having someone fighting for your right to full compensation who understands the law and has experience going up against large insurance companies gives you a better chance of obtaining a fair settlement amount for your accident claim.