The Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) estimates that roughly 38,000 people each year die in a car accident in the U.S. That’s over 100 deaths each day. In addition, about 4.4 million more individuals suffer an injury significant enough to warrant medical care each year. Auto accidents are the number one cause of death for people ages 1-54.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Nevada alone saw 285 fatality accidents in 2019, resulting in 304 deaths. Nevada is below the national average, but the number is still too high, especially for those who have suffered an injury or lost a loved one in a car accident, through no fault of their own.
Whether you are partially to blame or someone else is completely at fault in an accident, you need to make sure you’re legally protected and that you receive all compensation you’re due. You’ll want to start by consulting with experienced accident lawyers. Experienced Personal Injury attorneys can investigate your case and help you to negotiate a fair settlement.
Can Fault in a Car Accident Be Determined by Damage?
Unfortunately, just looking at the damage in a car accident isn’t always enough to determine fault. However, police officers at the scene, insurance adjusters, and lawyers who investigate accidents can learn a lot by looking at the types of damage and certain types of injury resulting from an accident.
What can different types of damage tell you about potential fault?
Typically, your car will suffer damage to the front bumper or other portions of the front end when you’re involved in a head-on collision, which will also damage the other vehicle’s front end.
If your rear bumper, tail lights, and trunk or rear panels are damaged, it’s because you’ve been rear-ended, which will likely cause damage to the front end of the vehicle behind you.
Typically, these kinds of accidents are relatively straightforward for insurance companies. Still, you may need to involve lawyers in fighting delays in trying to reach a fair settlement of your injury claim.
Side damage can occur in several different scenarios, ranging from sideswipes to T-bone accidents to rollover crashes. If there are only two cars involved in an accident, damage can help determine fault, but things can quickly get complicated in multi-vehicle collisions.
If your vehicle rolls onto its side, continues rolling onto the roof, or flips end over end, the damage caused by stationary objects (the roadway, median, or anything else you collide with) could obscure evidence of the initial vehicle collision, which can potentially hinder investigators as they seek how to tell who is at fault in a car accident. That is why it’s essential to collect other evidence, too.
What Does “Point of Impact Car Accident” Mean?
The location of damage from a car accident can’t necessarily determine fault, but it can tell you a lot about what happened.
In addition to creating correlations between impact damage on different vehicles (such as front-end damage on one car and rear-end damage on the other to show a rear-end collision), this damage can give valuable insights into what happened at the point of impact.
When professionals like police officers, insurance adjusters, and lawyers examine point-of-impact car accident damage, they may be able to determine, for example, how fast vehicles were traveling when the accident occurred.
Damage could show the direction of an accident, perhaps revealing which driver is at fault for a side-swiping accident. Each vehicle suffered a similar injury to the side body of their car.
Sometimes, you’ll get lucky, and the other driver will admit fault in an accident. However, in a situation where it’s your word against another driver, and you are each seeking compensation for damage and/or injuries that occurred, your lawyers will want to examine the damage to figure out what happened at the point of impact of the accident.
How Can You Tell Who Hit Who in a Car Accident?
Sometimes, you see an accident coming. It’s as if time slows, giving you the chance to note every detail. But, on the other hand, some accidents seem to come out of nowhere and leave you with no idea what happened.
If you suffered from an injury, you are likely to be a lot more concerned with seeking medical attention than committing the details of the accident to memory, determining who is at fault, or immediately contacting your insurance provider or accident lawyer.
Whether you suffer from scrapes and bruises, broken bones, a concussion, or another common injury, you must tell your lawyers whatever details you can remember so that they can fight to get you all of the money that you are entitled to.
When damage alone isn’t enough to prove fault in an accident, there are other types of information that your lawyers can use to recover damages from insurance providers or responsible parties.
What types of evidence should you focus on when you’re trying to determine fault and seek compensation for your injuries following an automobile accident?
The police don’t always note fault in car accident reports unless a driver admits it outright. Still, they will note many other details that could provide necessary leverage when your lawyers are trying to negotiate a settlement for injury compensation.
A police report may also shed some light on the event. Officers will collect statements from everyone present, survey the scene, and attempt to reconstruct and report the accident as accurately as possible.
You can start by talking to passengers in your vehicle. Everyone has their perspective, and this can help you to map out how the accident occurred.
You can also speak with witnesses at the scene not involved in the accident. They may have seen it unfold and might be able to give you an idea of who was at fault.
Witnesses to an accident (aside from the vehicle passengers involved in the accident) are an excellent resource for determining who is at fault. They should not be biased and should simply relate what they saw.
Photos of the Scene
You should always take photos of the accident scene to document damage to your vehicle and others involved. Photos should also address the scene’s layout before clearing the accident, if possible, and capture evidence of debris, skid marks, and other potential fault indicators.
Insurance companies that attempt to deny your car accident claim can poke holes in witness statements and dispute what the vehicle damage shows when addressing allegations of fault. However, they’ll have a much harder time fighting video evidence of the crash, including cell phone videos and/or surveillance video from traffic cameras.
Your lawyers can help to determine who is at fault in a car accident, but you can certainly help by collecting evidence at the scene, if you’re able, while the accident is still fresh in your memory. By documenting everything before it’s disturbed, you can help establish the facts of your claim.
What Should I Do Immediately After a Car Accident?
Whether you’ve suffered serious injuries or are just shaken up, knowing what to do after an accident is important. Here are some of the steps you should do in the aftermath of an accident:
Seek Medical Attention
If you’re injured, the first thing you need to do is seek medical attention. Depending on the severity of your injury, this could require immediate assistance from someone at the scene, like ambulance personnel. In some cases, you may be able to wait until you can be taken to the emergency room or urgent carel. Either way, this should be your primary concern following an accident.
Document the Scene
The next thing you need to do is document the scene of the accident before anything is moved. If you need legal representation, your lawyers will want to see the damage to your car and other vehicles, the layout of the scene, and the position of skid marks and debris, all of which could help to determine fault in the accident. If you can’t do this, ask a passenger or witness to assist you.
Call Your Insurance Provider
In some car accidents, the assignment of fault is clear enough that insurance providers can hammer out the details of compensation. In others, you’ll need the assistance of a qualified accident attorney. Either way, you’ll want to inform your insurance provider about the situation as soon as possible to get the ball rolling on your claim.
Seek Out Experienced Accident Lawyers
In many accident cases, the insurance company may try to get you to settle your case quickly and for less than you are legally entitled to. Our office offers a FREE CONSULTATION to discuss your case and provide legal assistance. Some of the most common questions that we hear at these meetings are:
Should I File an Insurance Claim on Bumper Damage?
No two car accidents are alike. Some minor accidents result in no damage, in which case you don’t necessarily have to file a claim. Others may be unclear, leaving you puzzling over questions like, “Should I file an insurance claim on bumper damage? Do I need to let my insurance provider know about a dent? What if I’m just a little dizzy?”
Whether you’re in a front-end or rear-end collision, you shouldn’t have to pay for damages or medical costs that aren’t your fault. Any amount of property damage could be the basis for a claim.
A small dent on the bumper could turn out to reveal frame damage, and even if you don’t feel the impact of the accident at the scene, you may develop pain which reveals an underlying injury (or more than one) hours or days after the accident.
How Soon Do I Need to File a Case for Injury in a Car Accident?
It’s always best to contact your insurance provider immediately after a car accident, whether you suffer from an injury or your vehicle has property damage.
When another driver is at fault for your accident, you want to recover damages as soon as possible so you can pay for repairs and/or medical costs.
In terms of hiring accident lawyers, time is of the essence. If the insurance provider for the at-fault party delays or denies your claims, the chances are that they’re trying to run out the statute of limitations for you to file a personal injury claim.
In Nevada, you have only two years from the date of the car accident to file a lawsuit. Two years sounds like a lot, but it can creep up on you when you’re stressed about recovering from your injuries, getting your car fixed and dealing with the stress of everyday life.
Your lawyers can help to make sure you meet filing deadlines and receive all of the compensation you are entitled to.’
Why Is It So Important to Hire Qualified Car Accident Lawyers?
Accident attorneys know how to question witnesses from the accident scene, and they have access to expert witnesses who can help determine fault. They also have the skill to negotiate a fair settlement or prepare to take your accident case to trial, if necessary.
Perhaps more importantly, these experts can take a lot off your plate in the wake of a car accident, reducing your stress and providing the peace of mind you need.
Insurance companies have the resources to delay your case until the statute of limitations for your accident expires, or you simply give up. However, the right law firm can help you to get maximum compensation in record time.
If you have been involved in a car accident in Las Vegas, the qualified and compassionate accident lawyers at Ed Bernstein & Associates are ready to help. Contact us online or call us at 702-213-7012 today to schedule a consultation and discuss your legal rights.