A car accident case can be challenging enough when you have just one other driver involved. When there are two, three, four, or more drivers involved in a wreck, it can complicate things even further. In some cases, liability may not be completely clear, and there may be mitigating factors involved as well.
The end result is a much more challenging personal injury case. Following are some of the challenges of multi-car accidents when it comes to personal injury claims.
Multiple Possible Defendants
First off, there are often multiple possible defendants. Finding who was actually at fault for the accident requires thorough investigation and solid evidence. Police reports, investigations performed by the insurance company, eyewitness accounts, and your own account from the accident will all be considered when determining who is liable, but it’s often not completely clear at the outset.
To muddy the waters further, there may be mitigating factors at play that may reduce or even eliminate liability. For instance, there may have been thick fog or rain obscuring vision at the time of the accident, or the road may be littered from debris from a mudslide. Essentially, any factor that would make it harder to control a vehicle might reduce the liability of those responsible.
On the other hand, some scenarios will make someone more likely to be found liable, such as if they violated traffic laws, drove while intoxicated, or were texting.
A key challenge when pursuing a personal injury lawsuit after a multi-car accident is the fact that there are likely multiple parties who were injured. That means multiple payouts from the responsible party, which may not be possible under their insurance limits.
For instance, suppose a driver at fault for an accident has insurance limits of up to $40,000 per person and $80,000 per accident. If four people were injured, the most any of them could recover from the insurance company is $40,000. However, since there are four of them, the insurance policy can’t cover all of them.
In this example, the case will likely go to court since insurance companies generally refuse to make determinations on how funds will be divided up in such scenarios.
Additionally, the insurance company may try to minimize the amount it pays out—or eliminate responsibility for the accident entirely—by proving a lack of liability. This may involve pointing out mitigating factors like those listed above, or they may try to find the plaintiff (the party seeking compensation for their injuries) more than 50% liable for the accident.
Personal Injury Cases After Multi-Car Accidents
If you have been involved in an accident involving multiple vehicles, there are a few important steps you should take:
- Stay as safe as possible. Don’t leave your car unless you have to.
- Get the license plate numbers and contact information of others involved.
- Avoid apologizing for the accident.
- Accept medical help.
- Take photographs of the crash site.
- Write down everything you remember from the accident as soon as you can.
- Hire a personal injury attorney to represent you.
By taking these steps, you’ll stand a better chance of recovering the damages you need after a multi-vehicle accident.