Proving Fault: Which Car Has More Damage in An Accident?

Car accidents happen fast, so it can be difficult to recall the exact details of a collision, especially when you are involved. Stress, trauma, shock, and head injuries associated with collisions can distort your sense of time and present difficulties in remembering the specifics of a car crash. Since witness accounts can be contradictory, it’s important to properly examine the evidence after a car accident in order to determine who or what was at fault.

But damage alone may not be an indicator of who is at fault.  Regardless of which car has the most damage, following these important steps can help you recover what you’re due in a motor vehicle accident.

Important Steps To Take After a Collision

If you are involved in a car accident with one or more drivers, it’s important first to stop your vehicle in a safe location.  Then, turn on your hazard lights to prevent further damage.  Only at that time can you exit the vehicle, if that’s possible.

If anyone involved in the accident is injured, immediately call 911 and request emergency services. Once police and first responders are on-site, they can help in the following ways:

Ensure Safety

The primary concern at the scene of an accident is safety. Police officers will secure the scene, direct traffic, and provide emergency medical assistance if needed. They will also make sure that all parties involved are safe and secure.

Maintain Order

Car accidents can be chaotic and emotional events, and police officers can help maintain order and keep the situation under control. They can also provide guidance and support by separating the parties involved and using de-escalation tactics to keep individuals calm.

Collect Evidence

Police are trained to investigate car accidents and gather important evidence, such as witness statements, photographs of the scene, and other information crucial in determining fault and liability in the accident.

Determine Fault

Police will write a detailed report of the accident, including who was involved, what happened, and who may have been responsible for causing the accident. They will also review the relevant traffic laws to determine if any violations, such as running a red light or failing to yield the right-of-way, contributed to the accident.

Conducting Sobriety Tests

If alcohol or drugs are suspected of being a factor in the accident, the officer may conduct sobriety tests on the drivers to determine if they were impaired at the time of the accident. Sobriety tests are important evidence in any legal proceedings to determine liability and prevent future accidents.

Provide Documentation

Officers who investigate car accidents are trained to expertly assess the scene and provide an official and unbiased account of the accident. Insurance companies, lawyers, and courts may rely on police reports as important documentation in legal proceedings to determine liability and damages.

Under the Nevada Revised Statutes, anyone involved in a car accident must report the incident and make arrangements for medical attention for any individuals who may have been injured. Nevada drivers can file an auto accident report up to 10 days after a collision in the case of incidents without a law enforcement investigation at the scene.

What Vehicle Damage Can Tell You

Determining fault in a car crash can be a complex and lengthy process. Evidence at the scene, such as skid marks, witness statements, traffic laws, and surveillance footage, are all great ways to understand how an accident happened and who is to blame.

One of the most important ways to determine fault in a car accident is by the damage to the vehicles involved. When assessing an accident, investigators will look at the following:

Point of Impact

The location of the damage on each vehicle can help establish the point of impact and how the accident occurred. For example, if one vehicle has damage on the front end and the other has damage on the rear end, it may indicate that one vehicle rear-ended the other.

Direction of Impact

The direction of impact between two or more vehicles can provide clues as to who was at fault. For example, if one vehicle has damage on the driver’s side and the other has damage on the passenger side, it may indicate that one vehicle swerved into the other vehicle’s lane.

Severity of Damage

The severity of the damage can be an important factor in determining fault. If one vehicle has extensive damage while the other has only minor damage, it may suggest that the driver of the more heavily damaged vehicle was not at fault. While it is helpful, the severity of damage alone is usually not enough evidence to determine fault, although it can factor in any damage lawsuit.

Vehicle Type

The type of vehicle can greatly affect the severity and location of the damage. For example, a large truck may cause more damage than a compact car in a collision, and the location of the damage may differ as a result. Assessing vehicle type and even vehicle colors can help determine which vehicles collided, especially in accidents involving multiple vehicles.

Common Damages and the Accidents That Cause Them

Through careful analysis and documentation, it’s possible to review the damage to vehicles to reconstruct the events of an accident. Here are some common types of car damages and what they might tell investigators about the collision.


Scratches on a car’s paint job can indicate a minor collision, such as a sideswipe accident. A sideswipe collision occurs when two vehicles collide while driving parallel to each other. This type of accident can result in damage to the side of one or both vehicles.


Dents can occur anywhere on a car and can be caused by various accidents. For example, dents in the rear of a car can indicate a rear-end collision, while dents in the front can suggest a head-on collision.

Crumpled metal

When metal is crumpled or bent, it shows the car sustained significant force. This type of damage is common in head-on collisions, which often occur at high speeds, damaging the front of both vehicles.

Frame damage

If the frame of a car is bent or twisted, it can mean the vehicle was involved in a severe accident, such as a head-on collision or a T-bone collision. A T-bone collision is when one vehicle hits the side of another, forming a “T” shape. This type of accident (also known as a side-impact collision) can result in frame damage to the side of one vehicle and the front of the other vehicle.  Frame damage often renders the vehicle undrivable.

Broken glass

Broken windows or windshields indicate the car was involved in a rollover or high-impact accident. A rollover collision is when a vehicle tips over onto its side or roof. This type of accident often results in damage to multiple areas of the vehicle, including the roof, sides, and windows.

Suspension damage

Damage to a car’s suspension suggests the vehicle hit a curb or other object or that it was involved in a high-speed collision.

Damage to a stationary object

The location of the damage to a stationary object will depend on where the vehicle made contact with the object. Single-car accidents often occur when a vehicle hits a stationary object, such as a tree or a guardrail. The vehicle often leaves skid marks on the road and paint or scratches on the object.

Common Misconceptions when Determining Fault

While the location and severity of the damages can provide clues as to how the accident occurred, they are not always reliable indicators of fault. Determining fault in a car accident is a complex process that involves multiple factors.  It’s important, then, to avoid these common misconceptions and rely instead on a thorough investigation to determine fault.

Misconception 1:  The Vehicle with More Damage is at Fault

As mentioned, the amount of damage sustained by a vehicle can be influenced by various factors, including the size and weight of the vehicles involved, the angle of impact, and the speed of the vehicles. For instance, if a car is hit from the side, it may sustain more damage than the other vehicle involved, even if the other vehicle’s driver is at fault.

Misconception 2:  The Driver who Received a Ticket is at Fault

One of the most prevalent misconceptions is that the person who receives a ticket from the police is automatically at fault. It may be the case, but not necessarily.  Receiving a ticket simply means the person violated a traffic law. For example, if you were driving without a valid license or registration, speeding, or failed to use your turning signal, you could receive a ticket even if the accident was not your fault.

Misconception 3:  Distracted Drivers are at  Fault

Distracted driving can certainly contribute to an accident; however, it is not always the sole cause. If a driver is distracted by their phone and runs a red light, but another driver with the green light is speeding and hits them, the speeding driver could be at fault for the accident. Similarly, if a driver is distracted and rear-ends another vehicle, but it is later discovered that the brakes on their vehicle were faulty through no negligence of the owner, the vehicle manufacturer could be held accountable.

Misconception 4:  Insurance Companies Determine Fault.

While insurance companies investigate accidents and make recommendations about fault, they do not have the final say. Ultimately, fault is determined by the legal system.

Defending Against Insurance Companies

When you get into a car accident, an insurance adjuster will be sent out to inspect the damage. During an inspection, they will examine the vehicle to check for any damage, such as scratches, dents, or broken parts. If there are any hidden damages, diagnostic testing will be done to check for problems like alignment issues or engine trouble.

Insurance companies are in the business of making money, and they will often try to minimize their payouts. They may try to deny your claim or lowball you on the settlement. This can be frustrating and stressful for accident victims, who may be facing significant financial losses.

There are a few things you can do to defend yourself against insurance companies:

  • Get a copy of the police report: This is important even if the accident is minor. The police report will document the facts of the accident, and it will be helpful if you need to fact-check a claim with your insurance company.
  • Take your own pictures of the damage to your vehicle: This will help you document the extent of your losses and could help in any legal proceedings.
  • Get medical attention: This will help you get the treatment you need, and it will also create a thorough record of your injuries.
  • Save all of your bills and other expenses related to the accident: Documentation will be helpful if you need to update a claim with your insurance company or sue the other driver.
  • Do not talk to the other driver’s insurance company without an attorney: The insurance company’s goal is to protect their client and minimize payouts. They may try to get you to say something that could hurt your case.
  • Get legal help: An experienced attorney can help you negotiate with them to get the compensation you deserve.

If you are dealing with an insurance company, it is important to know your rights. You have the right to be treated fairly and with respect. You have the right to have your claim investigated thoroughly. And you have the right to a fair settlement.

When It’s Time To Call A Lawyer

When fault is disputed, or there is a disagreement over the cost of damages, you should ensure you have the best legal representation. The case will most likely go to court, where a judge will determine fault and the amount to be paid in damages.

In most cases, it’s best to hire a Las Vegas car accident lawyer to represent you as soon as the accident happens. They will work with the insurance adjusters and the other person’s insurance company and handle the hassle of negotiations for you. Your legal counsel will represent your best interests, not that of the insurance companies.

If you have been involved in a car accident, seeking legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer is important. Cloward Trial Lawyers can help you navigate the complex legal process, work with insurance adjusters, and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Benjamin P. Cloward

In 2016, at the age of 37, Benjamin P. Cloward became the youngest lawyer in the history of the State of Nevada to be awarded the prestigious “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the Nevada Justice Association. That same year, he became the youngest member of the Nevada, Las Vegas Chapter of ABOTA (American Board of Trial Advocates), and at the time was also the youngest person in the State of Nevada to be Board Certified as a Personal Injury Specialist.

Practice areas: personal injury, car accidents, truck accidents, wrongful death, Greyhound bus accidents, and walk-in tub accidents.
Location: Las Vegas, NV

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