posted in Car Accidents on February 28, 2020
After a multi-car accident, you must establish liability in order to determine who pays for the accident and the financial impact it leaves behind. Not only does the legally liable party bear liability for paying for damage to the vehicles involved in the accident, that party–or his insurance company–may need to pay for medical bills and other financial damages from the victims’ injuries.
How do you determine liability in a multi-car accident? Working with an attorney can help you effectively identify each individual or entity who bears liability in a multi-car accident.
Sometimes, a multi-car crash has a clear responsible party. For example, suppose the rear vehicle in a long line of cars rear-ends the car in front of it, causing it to hit the vehicle immediately in front of it–potentially and so on down the line. In many cases, the rear driver may have clear primary liability for the accident.
In other cases, however, you may have a more complicated situation. Several parties may contribute to the accident: two distracted drivers swiping a third, for example, or a distracted driver hitting a driver that runs a red light, shoving the vehicle into another car. Insurance companies may need to determine who bears primary liability for the accident as well as what percentage liability each driver bears for the accident, which can help determine what percentage of the accident each one must pay for. Not only that, other factors can contribute to the accident itself: a drunk driver, a mechanical failure in a vehicle, or a commercial company that does not maintain safe working conditions to its vehicles. All of these factors can shift the balance of liability, complicating the process of seeking compensation.
Insurance companies may argue over which driver caused the accident and, therefore, which insurance company has to pay for the accident. It may take a longer, more detailed investigation to determine liability for the accident. As they investigate, insurance companies may look for any signs of distracted or inebriated drivers, which could implicate a specific driver in the multi-car accident, as well as any evidence of unsafe driving behavior: running red lights or stop signs, speeding, or swerving erratically, for example. Any evidence of wrongdoing on the road can help change the balance of liability. That detailed investigation may make it take longer to get the compensation deserved in a car accident.
After a multi-car accident, attorneys and insurance companies may look through a wide range of information and potential evidence to help determine which vehicle caused the accident and, therefore, which driver’s insurance company bears liability for paying for those expenses. This may include:
Looking at any video footage available of the accident. Dash cams, traffic cameras, and security footage from local businesses can all provide clear evidence that can help precisely reconstruct what led to the accident. Each of these cameras, however, may offer only a limited view of the accident. Accessing this video footage as soon as possible also decreases the odds that the owner of that footage will delete or lose it.
Statements from the drivers involved in the accident. Following a multi-car accident, the police will take statements from all drivers involved in the accident. If involved in a multi-car crash, you should avoid admitting responsibility. You should, however, answer the responding officer’s questions clearly and honestly. The insurance companies that cover the involved drivers may ask for their own statements from each driver. Consult with an attorney before providing a statement to any insurance company, since an attorney can help you avoid mistakenly claiming liability for the accident.
Witness statements. Often, witnesses of a car accident, especially a multi-car accident, can help provide a better account of exactly what occurred during the accident. Witnesses may have a clearer view of the accident itself than the drivers actively involved in the accident. Witnesses might, for example, see the vehicle or event that triggers the initial accident in a multi-car pileup. Collecting witness statements as soon as possible helps ensure that those memories do not have time to fade unnecessarily.
Photos of the accident scene. In the absence of video footage, photos can help recreate the accident. At the scene of a multi-car accident, if you can safely take photos of the damage to your vehicle and others, this evidence can help establish fault after the accident. Photos of the accident scene can clearly show the ending position of the vehicles, which can, in some accidents, show exactly which car hit the other.
The damage to the vehicles. Often, the damage to the vehicles involved in a multi-car accident can help display exactly where each vehicle hit another. Paint transfer as well as the damage patterns may make it easier to determine where each vehicle hit the others and, in some cases, display which vehicle hit the others. Studying the damage to the vehicles can also display potential mechanical problems that may have caused the accident.
The police report. When they consider the evidence from an accident, insurance companies will pay careful attention to the police report. This document, however, is not always a hundred percent accurate. Insurance companies and drivers can contest the information provided in a police report, especially if additional evidence comes to light during the investigation.
Working with expert witnesses. Following a multi-car accident, many insurance companies will work with an expert witness to help recreate the scene of the accident and determine who caused that accident. If you need to contest the liability established by the insurance companies, working with an expert witness can help you recreate the scene of the accident and give you a better idea of who caused a multi-car accident.
Any time you suffer serious injuries in a car accident, you may need an attorney to help you fight for the compensation you deserve. After a multi-car accident, an attorney can provide even more advantages. If you suffered injuries in a multi-car accident, contact Gina Corena & Associates to schedule a consultation and learn more about both your rights and the compensation you deserve.
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