Determining who was at fault in a car accident can be a lengthy process. However, correctly identifying the at-fault party is crucial to determining liability and whether or not one party can seek compensation from the other.
One of the keys to determining fault in a car accident is hiring a qualified personal injury lawyer. Good personal injury lawyers have experience investigating car accidents and know what to look for when trying to establish fault. Some things to consider include:
- Accident reports: by examining the official accident report for your accident, you and your lawyer can learn the police officer’s assessment of what happened
- Visit the scene of the accident later on
- Interview witnesses
- Watch any video of the accident that may have been captured on surveillance cameras
One additional step you and your lawyer can take to determine who was at fault in your accident is analyzing the damage done to each of the vehicles involved in the accident. While vehicle damage might not always be conclusive, in some cases it can help establish fault.
Front End/Rear End Damage
When one of the vehicles has damage to its front end and the other has damage to the rear end, it is a telltale sign that the driver of the vehicle with the front end damage was at fault. In many cases, the driver with front end damage crashes into the car in front of them because they were speeding, driving too close to the other vehicle, or distracted and didn’t notice the car in front of them slow down.
If the damage on your car and the other car involved in the accident are front end/rear end, then you have a good case that the other driver was negligent and is liable for damages you sustained.
Passenger Side Damage
If you have been hit on the passenger side of your car there is a good chance that the damage will point to the other driver being the liable party. This is especially true if the damage to the other vehicle is on the front or rear end. What this type of “T-bone” damage often indicates is that the driver of the other vehicle was distracted or entered a road or street when you had the right of way to keep driving.
These two types of damages might be the most conclusive you can find in car accidents. When both cars are damaged on their front ends or there are irregular damage patterns, it might be more difficult to determine fault. In such cases, hiring a seasoned personal injury lawyer will be even more important. It might even be the case that your lawyer will choose to hire an accident reconstructionist or other expert to help determine fault in your case.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
While you might feel your case is a slam dunk and the other driver is liable for damages you incurred, it is never a bad idea to consult a personal injury lawyer, especially one who specializes in car accidents. Personal injury lawyers offer free consultations and know what to look for beyond the liability of the other driver.
For example, in some cases, more than one party could be liable for the accident. If that is the case, even if you are not one of the liable parties, issues related to damages and compensation could be contentious. Having a lawyer on your side to advocate your position is crucial to ensuring you get the money you deserve.
Finally, personal injury lawyers know how to protect their clients from insurance companies that want quick settlements that award minuscule damages. Know that if you have already been approached by an insurance company about settling your claim, the company is hoping to give you as little as possible. Only by securing competent representation can you maximize the damages you recover.