If you get sideswiped or rear-ended by another vehicle, the silver lining is that you can determine fault by location of the damage. However, if you’re the one who did the sideswiping and rear-ending, this can also be bad news (sorry).

After a car accident, determining who is at fault by location of damage can help you prove your innocence and receive compensation for damages. But determining who is at fault isn’t always cut and dry. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to determining fault by location of damage.

1. Why do they determine fault by location of damage?

It’s simple, really. If you carefully inspect the damage to your vehicle after a car accident, you can typically determine how the accident occurred. By working backward, you should be able to uncover who is responsible for the car accident and what happened.

For example, let’s say you were rolling through a parking lot and someone backs up into you. In this case, the damage would probably be found somewhere in the middle of your car, indicating that the person backing out was the one who wasn’t paying attention.  

If the same situation occurred but the damage is near the front of your vehicle, then it could indicate that you weren’t paying attention and crashed into the other vehicle as it backed out instead of the other way around.

2. What should you do after a car accident?

If you’re determining who is at fault by the damage location, then it’s important to take the following steps immediately after a car accident:

  1. Take photos: If you expect insurance companies and/or a jury to believe your version of the story, then it’s best to have evidence. Photos of the car accident will help. But don’t just take photos of your own vehicle — take photos of the other vehicle, as well as any debris surrounding the car accident.
  2. Take more photos: After you’ve taken the photos, take some more. The more you have, the better. And if you feel like you’ve taken enough, then take a few more. Don’t forget to get the other person’s insurance and ID and insurance information as well and ask to take a picture — you don’t want to be a victim of false information
  3. Find witnesses: If anyone witnessed the accident happen, get their contact information. While photos are great, if you have someone that can vouch for your version of the story, your chances of being found at fault can decrease quite a bit.
  4. Call the police: Police should be contacted if the car accident obstructs traffic or if someone was injured. However, they can also help you collect evidence and document the car accident if you choose to file a police report.
  5. Contact your insurance provider: If you’ve just been in a car accident, you’ll want to contact your insurance provider. But whatever you do, do not admit fault. Inform them that you’ve been in a car accident and that you’ll be contacting a car accident or personal injury attorney in Houston.

3. What can go wrong when determining fault by location of damage?

Let’s say you were turning left on a green light and another vehicle hit you. What if the other person says you turned left on a red light? The damage would show the other driver is at fault — but at this point, it becomes a matter of he-said-she-said and witnesses become critical.

Now, let’s say the situation is reversed and you hit someone turning left on a red light. It’s the middle of the night, and there are no witnesses in sight. What now? This is when determining fault by location of damage can actually work against you, even if you are innocent.

At this point, there are other factors that need to be considered.

4. What else do they look at when determining fault by location of damage?

Location of damage isn’t everything. And while it can help you in some situations, it can also hurt you. This is why it’s important to take a look at the entire picture and to consider the location of damage as merely one pixel in the photo.

Here are a few other factors that need to be considered when determining who is at fault after a car accident:

  • Speed
  • Weather
  • Tire marks
  • The drivers (Did drugs and alcohol play a role? If so, check out Texas’s intoxication manslaughter penalties.)
  • Pre-existing road conditions (Was it not safe to drive on the road? Was there debris on the road that could have caused the accident?)
  • Headlights (Were they on? What’s the state of your bulbs?)
  • Overall condition of the vehicle
  • Brakes
  • Turn signals
  • Cruise control

5. How to prove you are not at fault in a car accident

After a car accident (especially a bad one that leads to hefty damages or major injuries), it’s important to act fast and to prove you are not at fault. While it’s a good idea to contact your insurance provider and the police, you also want to talk to a lawyer.

Whether you need a Texas personal injury attorney, an auto accident lawyer, or a truck accident lawyer, Thiessen Law Firm has your back. Mark Thiessen, Houston’ DWI Super Lawyer, provides professional but aggressive representation for Houstonians and has turned seemingly impossible car accident cases into wins (including this personal injury success story).

Here at Thiessen Law Firm, we’re ready and willing to help you prove you are not at fault in a car accident. Give us a call at 713-864-9000 or send us a message online to set up a free consultation today.

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Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.