Can Fault Be Determined by Car Accident Damage?
Texas is a “fault” state for car accident claims. You must prove that another driver or party was responsible for causing the car accident to recover compensation from that party for your injuries, losses, and damages. Therefore, proving how the collision happened and how the other party was responsible for the cause of the crash is vital to a personal injury claim. Damages caused to any cars involved in the collision can help paint a picture of how the crash happened.
Investigating a Car Accident and Gathering Evidence
Car accident lawyers use a variety of methods to investigate the cause of a car accident and gather evidence proving fault. Some of the steps an attorney may take when investigating the cause of a car accident include:
- Visiting the car accident scene
- Inspecting the damage to the vehicles
- Locating and interviewing eyewitnesses
- Obtaining copies of crash reports and police reports
- Searching for traffic camera and other video evidence of the collision
- Obtaining copies of medical records
- Checking weather reports at the time of the crash
- Hiring experts, including accident reconstructionists and automobile experts
The steps taken to investigate a car accident vary depending on the circumstances and facts of the case. However, all investigations have one purpose – to prove fault for the car accident and gather evidence related to liability and damages.
Proving Fault for the Car Crash Can Be Difficult
Some car accident cases involve a clear explanation of fault. For instance, a vehicle turns left in front of another vehicle at a traffic light. The driver who failed to yield the right of way is responsible for causing the crash.
However, there may not be any evidence to prove that the driver who turned in front of another car was the driver who failed to yield the right of way. The driver turning left may have had a green arrow, and the other driver failed to stop for the red light. Yet, the only “evidence” of fault may be the conflicting testimony of the two drivers because there were no eyewitnesses, video, or other evidence to prove who had the right of way.
Unfortunately, proving fault for a car accident can be challenging in many cases. When there is little evidence to rely upon to determine fault, a car accident attorney may hire experts and industry professionals to examine the damage to the vehicles to determine fault.
Using Vehicle Damage to Prove Fault for a Crash
The location, type, and severity of damage to a vehicle can be an indicator of how the accident occurred. For example, damage to the back end of one vehicle and the front end of the other vehicle indicate the vehicle in the rear collided with the vehicle in front of it. This damage evidence would typically indicate that the driver in the rear was at fault for running into the car in front of him.
Some car crash cases are not as clear. Accident reconstructionists, engineers, vehicle designers, and other industry experts may use the accident damage to determine fault.
The experts use vehicle damage and accident information to recreate how an accident may have happened based on engineering, dynamics, and physics. Once they can create how the accident occurred, they can identify the factors that led to the accident and who is responsible for each of those factors.
Other information that can assist experts in recreating how the accident occurred include:
- A vehicle’s crashworthiness;
- The victim’s injuries;
- Weather conditions at the time of the crash;
- Physical evidence from the accident scene, such as skid marks and road debris;
- A vehicle’s features, including cruise control, anti-locking brakes, and crash avoidance systems;
- Road conditions and road design; and,
- Other factors, such as speed and visual impairments.
Why do we Worry About Proving Fault?
As discussed above, you must prove fault to recover compensation for an accident. However, identifying the percentage of fault is another crucial factor in a car accident case.
Texas uses a modified comparative fault standard to assign liability for damages in a car accident case. If your actions contributed to the car of the car accident, your compensation could be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you for causing the collision.
However, if your percentage of fault is 51 percent or more, you are barred from receiving any compensation for the car accident claim.
Insurance companies use comparative fault to avoid paying claims. If the cause of the accident is in question, the insurance company may aggressively pursue a comparative fault allegation. For that reason, it is always a good idea to consult with a car accident lawyer to discuss ways you can prove that you did not cause the car accident.