# Mechanics, can you tell from the damage who was at fault?

Idly looking at a damaged car in a store parking lot, I began to wonder if there’s any specific type of accident damage a mechanic can look at and say with confidence, “oh yeah, this is the driver who was at fault.” So we have mechanics here…can you tell?

Oh, by “at fault” I do mean that literally, that they were the one who caused the accident but not necessarily the one who is “at fault” legally.

Mechanics (or anybody, really) can tell a certain amount from where the damage is located on the vehicles.

for example, if car A is damaged on the front end, and car B is damaged on the front passengers door, you can tell that Car A hit Car B, which was further thru the intersection. But that doesn’t tell which car had the green light, so you can’t really tell legal ‘fault’.

I backed into a pole once, and got a dent in my bumper. When I see cars with a similar shaped dent, I assume they backed into a pole once too.

People hit the brakes when they think they’re going to crash.

If Car A has damage to the top of the front bumper and Car B has damage to the bottom of the rear bumper, then Car A almost certainly rear-ended Car B. Brakes cause the front end to dive when the car is travelling forward.

If Car A has damage to the bottom of the front bumper and Car B has damage to the top of the rear bumper, then Car B probably reversed into Car A. Brakes cause the rear end to dive when the car is travelling backwards.

I was once sideswiped by another car. The case went to court, and the judge went out and looked at both cars. The other car had a relatively flat side with a long scrape, and my car was more curvy with the wheel wells getting the scrape. The judge ruled that it was my fault, since the other car had a longer scrape. I tried to explain to her that the different damage had more to do with the different shapes of the cars, but she still ruled in favor of the other driver.

Could a mechanic have gotten her to reverse her ruling?

A couple of the responses above talk about looking at two separate cars. What if you just had one car to look at?

Accident reconstruction is pretty involved. No, a mechanic can not look at a car with any certainty and determine fault. An accident reconstructionist goes through quite a bit of training. It’s mostly about physics. I’ve been through most of the training. If I saw one car, no way I could tell. If I saw both cars, there is a good chance I could tell. If I had both cars at the scene, I could mostly tell. Of course without cameras or eyewitnesses I couldn’t know who had the green light for instance. A mechanic has none of that training.