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Could the Location of Damage Help Prove Fault in a Car Accident?

car accident determining fault by location of damage

After a car accident, one of the first questions is, “Who was at fault?”

Determining liability is complicated, but the location of vehicle damage can provide useful clues.

In this guide, we’ll overview how fault gets determined after a crash, how damage location plays a role, what other key evidence to collect, and why hiring a car accident lawyer benefits you when fault is in question.

How Insurance Adjusters Determine Fault in a Car Accident

Tennessee is an “at-fault” state regarding financial responsibility for car crashes. This means that the at-fault driver can be held liable for damages and compensation.

Police reports provide an initial assessment based on speaking with the drivers and witnesses. However, their conclusions are only sometimes accurate or complete. In some cases, attorneys must bring in independent accident reconstruction experts to analyze further what happened.

In addition to police reports and expert analysis, common evidence used to prove fault includes:

  • Witness statements
  • Video footage (dash cams, security cameras, etc.)
  • Photographs of the accident scene documenting the damage location
  • Data from the vehicle computer modules
  • Medical reports documenting injuries

Tennessee also follows the comparative negligence rule, meaning you may collect damages even if you’re partially at fault in a car accident. Under this rule, if you are 49% or less at fault for your injuries, you can still recover compensation, but your percentage of fault reduces the amount you recover.

That’s why building the most robust case with evidence like damage location helps demonstrate the other driver’s greater negligence.

How is the Location of Damage Used to Determine Fault?

The location of the damage on the crash vehicles provides critical visual evidence for accident attorneys and insurance adjusters when determining car accident fault and liability.

Rear-End Collisions

When a vehicle strikes another from behind, the rear damage may indicate a motorist failed to stop in time and is likely at fault. Over 70% of all car accident cases are rear-end collisions attributed to tailgating, distraction, intoxication, and other driver errors.

Head-On Impact

When the front-end damage was head-on, one driver likely crossed the center dividing line. Photos of scrapes or indentations in the roadway help clarify what happened.


A vehicle damaged along one side was likely changing lanes and hit by the other car maintaining its lane. This evidence suggests the fault lies with the lane-changing driver.

Side-Impact Collisions

When damage is on one side toward the front or back of a vehicle, the other driver likely failed to stop or yield at a sign, light, or turn.

In addition to photography of the exterior damage, internal photos – revealing crushed zones and points of impact – assist accident reconstruction specialists in determining each car’s position. When there are discrepancies between driver accounts, this evidence is invaluable.

As car accident attorneys, we work with reconstructionists and collision repair specialists familiar with how crush damage patterns can indicate the direction of force, rollover dynamics, and which vehicle was stationary.

What Other Evidence Can Help Prove Fault After an Auto Accident?

While vehicle damage alone provides visual clues, several other evidence sources help clarify details to determine fault.

Police Reports and Determinations

Although police reports contain limited information captured immediately at the scene, they provide basic facts such as time, weather conditions, street location, vehicle positioning, observable damage, injuries, and any issued citations. Photos taken by police also document physical evidence right after the collision.

Remember that the officers on the scene make quick judgments with limited data. As a Memphis car accident attorney advocating for injury victims, we ensure police conclusions undergo deeper scrutiny to benefit my clients.

Eyewitness Statements

The accounts of eyewitnesses can provide additional context, capturing factors leading up to the crash that the drivers themselves didn’t observe before impact. These testimonies may reveal movement directions the cars took, traffic lights at the time, or even overhearing screeching sounds suggesting sudden braking.

However, witness recollections can be unreliable because they’re subject to individual biases and fading memory over time. Capturing detailed interviews shortly after the crash, rather than days or weeks later, yields the most accurate descriptions.

Crash Site Evidence

Photographing and measuring subtle yet important crash scene details before the cars get moved assists with clarifying what transpired based on the laws of physics.

An example would be when long skidmark shapes and locations demonstrate abrupt braking. This evidence allows for calculating minimum pre-impact speeds. Likewise, fluid spills, detached vehicle parts, and debris fields pinpoint the collision point.

Accident Investigation Findings

Retaining accident reconstruction experts provide analysis incorporating full evidence gathered after the fact to model the sequence of events.

By leveraging simulation software, they can calculate angles of impact, validate estimates of vehicle speed, test different scenarios, and ultimately declare who was at fault. Their credibility holds significant sway in establishing legal liability.

Take photographs of all damage to your vehicle from multiple angles before getting your property damage repaired. The images serve as evidence to clarify accident details that get called into question later. Capture the overall car accident fault by location and show terrain, weather, and other contextual variables.

How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You Prove Fault

Handling an injury claim alone against insurance companies trained in limiting payouts reduces potential compensation substantially. Their first offer rarely matches actual losses sustained.

Here’s how retaining legal representation benefits you:

  • Collect documentation and tangible evidence like damage photos proving greater fault lies with the other driver.
  • Retain specialists such as accident reconstructionists and medical experts providing opinions favoring your case position.
  • Calculate all current and future accident costs related to medical bills, lost income, vehicle repair or replacement expenses, and more.
  • Negotiate optimal settlements or litigate court awards to get you the maximum dollars you deserve. Attorneys understand what juries award in Memphis for cases like yours.

Navigating legal claims, dealing with delays and denials from insurance adjusters, estimating losses – who has time for all that when recovering from injuries? Our car accident lawyers manage the process so you can focus on getting well.

The Proof is at the Scene – Consult a Seasoned Attorney Now

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car crash, proving who was at fault is key to securing a fair settlement or judgment.

At Pickford Law, our personal injury attorneys can investigate the accident scene and interpret evidence like damage markings to build a strong case.
We can use the location of damage to convincingly argue fault and seek maximum compensation for you.

Don’t leave your claim to chance – contact us today for a free consultation.

Author Bio

Shalondra Grandberry Pickford

Shalondra Grandberry Pickford is a highly skilled attorney and the founder of Pickford Law. Her legal practice is committed to representing clients on various legal matters, including social security disability, veterans’ disability, estate planning, and personal injury. With over ten years of experience in law and a license to practice in Tennessee and Arkansas, Shalondra is committed to providing personalized and effective legal representation to each client.

Shalondra received her Juris Doctorate from The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and is a member of the Tennessee and Arkansas State Bar Associations. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including the exclusive Rising Stars award from Super Lawyers in 2017 and again in 2022.

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