Determining Car Accident Fault by Location of Damage

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Nevada is an at-fault state for car accidents. Of course, who is at fault is a very important question.

Fault may not be easy to determine after an accident. Parties may not remember what happened. They may not be truthful. Determining fault for the car accident may require an investigation.

One way to determine fault in a car accident is by looking at the location of damage. Where damage appears on a vehicle can be a strong indicator of what happened and who is to blame.

The Nevada Area Injury Lawyers explore how to determine car accident fault by the location of damage.

How Can Fault in a Car Accident be Determined by the Location of Damage?

Depending on where the damage is on a vehicle, it can be determined how the parties acted leading up to the crash:

Rear-end damage

When there is damage to the front of one vehicle and the rear of another, it’s often the case that the impact occurred when one vehicle struck another from behind. This is strong evidence that the operator of the vehicle in back is at fault. There are a few limited circumstances where that may not be the case. Usually, though, rear-end damage is a sign that the vehicle in the back did not leave enough following distance for the vehicle in front.

Side damage

Side damage may not be as clear of an indicator, but it can still be telling. Take a situation where one direction of travel has a stop sign and the other direction doesn’t. If the vehicle with the stop sign has damage to the side of their vehicle, it’s strong evidence that they entered the intersection without the right of way. In a situation with a traffic light or a four-way stop sign, side damage doesn’t always reveal who had the right of way.

Evasive action

Whether a driver took evasive action in the time leading up to the crash can be shown based on the location of the damage. If wheels turned away from where the other driver was coming from, it may be clear that that driver knew a crash was about to occur. This kind of indicator from the location of vehicle damage can be subtle.


The amount of damage on a vehicle can be an indicator of speed. The higher the speed, the greater the impact. The speed of the vehicle is a key indicator of the likelihood of injury. The story can be told by looking at the severity of the damage. Damage on a vehicle can be an indicator of speed at the time of impact.

(Source: SWOV Fact Sheet, The relation between speed and crashes)

Can You Tell Who Is at Fault for a Car Accident Based on the Location of Damage?

The location of damage may be one indicator of who is at fault for the accident. It should be considered along with other available evidence to determine how the accident occurred and who acted negligently.

How to Use Car Accident Damage to Build Your Case

Once you identify damage on the vehicles, you evaluate what it might show about who is at fault for the car accident. Then, you must figure out how to use this evidence to present your case.

Location of damage is one piece of the puzzle

First, remember that vehicle damage is only one piece of the bigger picture. It can be helpful to prove fault, the extent of the compensation you deserve, and the fact that the crash was severe enough to cause injuries. Alone, it may or may not be conclusive of fault. Be sure to evaluate how it can help your case and what its limitations are. You likely need other pieces of evidence to thoroughly prove your claim.

Preserving vehicle damage evidence

To use vehicle damage evidence in your claim, you must have the evidence to present. Of course, you can testify to it, but memories can fade. By far the best way to present evidence of vehicle damage is through photographs and video. You can preserve the evidence yourself.

Gather photos and video of vehicle damage as soon as you can. The best time is right at the accident scene. It’s the only time that you can gather images of both vehicles as well as their respective locations after the crash. Even an image that shows no damage can be revealing to determining the facts of the case. Don’t worry about being a professional photographer. Take as many images as possible as well as a video that pans around the entire vehicle and greater accident scene.

Even if you can’t document the evidence at the accident scene (emergency medical care is always the most important), take photos as soon as you can. There may still be skid marks visible on the scene of the accident. Your legal team may be able to move for inspection of the other vehicle involved if it has not yet been repaired or destroyed. With this evidence preserved, you can evaluate how to use it to build your case.

Your legal team may invoke Nevada Rules of Evidence Rule 34 to inspect tangible things that are within the control of the other party.

Accident reconstruction

One way that the location of fault on vehicles can be helpful is when conducting an accident reconstruction. A trained professional can use the information to recreate the events of the accident. The accident reconstructionist can use the location of damage along with other evidence to determine how the accident likely occurred.

Lawyers for Evaluating Damage from a Car Accident

Evaluating the location of damage can be an important part of building your car accident claim. At Nevada Accident Injury Lawyers, we help people just like you investigate and build their car accident claims. We understand the ways that damage from a car accident can be indicative of fault. It’s our goal to evaluate the location of damage and explore every avenue to pursue your legal rights to the fullest.

See how we can represent you in your car accident claim. Contact us for a free and confidential case review.


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