Who Is At Fault in Multi-Vehicle Collisions?
Besides trauma, property damage, injuries and possible death, victims in a multi-vehicle collision have one burning question: Who is going to pay for this?
The largest roadway pileup on record occurred in 2013 in Carroll County, Virginia. The incident, which took place on I-77, involved nearly 100 vehicles, injured 25 and killed three.
These events can be a nightmare to sort out, and the at-fault driver may never be identified. The good news is that injured victims can receive immense payouts if they seek compensation in a personal injury case.
Severe injuries and fatalities are quite common in massive auto accidents. It’s not unusual for these crashes to involve a great many California personal injury attorneys and auto insurance companies alike.
Even smaller events involving fewer vehicles can have disastrous financial and physical consequences. The trauma of the experience alone can leave a driver psychologically wounded for life.
It’s essential that the drivers involved are informed about their rights, clear about their options and fully compensated for their losses.
Drivers in major crashes should seek urgent medical care to document their injuries and consult an experienced California personal injury lawyer at once.
What Causes Multiple-Driver Car Accidents?
As with two-car collisions, driver error is almost always to blame. Nevertheless, there are outside issues that typically come into play when a pileup occurs:
- Smartphones: These devices are ready-made to keep a driver’s eyes on the phone instead of the road.
- Bad weather: Slippery roads, black ice, icy bridges, sleet, snow storms, fog, rain and damp roadways can all conspire against even the most diligent driver.
- Speeding: Going fast is fun, but when you speed, you are more likely to endanger yourself, your passengers and other drivers.
- Drunk driving: We all know better than to drive drunk, but we do it anyway, even though it increases the chances of a wreck astronomically.
- Emotional driving: You might have noticed that road rage is on the rise, but did you know that it’s dangerous to drive in any distorted emotional state? Driving during a panic attack or while weeping uncontrollably are as likely to cause accidents as road rage.
- Falling asleep: Driving when you can’t keep your eyes open may be a surefire way to kick off a multivehicle disaster.
- Distracted driving: If your attention is focused on something other than the roadway, you can easily miss quickly changing conditions and set off a major, multicar smashup.
- Poor visibility: Being unable to see where you’re going is driving blind. Fog, heavy rain and blizzards are responsible for some of the worst pileups ever.
- Reckless driving: Especially at high speeds, daredevil antics on the roadway are like asking for trouble and getting it.
What Makes Automobile Pileups so Deadly?
California roadways are highly congested because of all the commuter traffic. High reaction times are a survival skill that’s essential for safe travel. Interstate highways in California are packed with cars, trucks, semitrailers and motorcycles all moving at high speed.
Taking one’s eyes off the road for even a few seconds can detonate a massive chain reaction of sudden, high-impact collisions that are nearly impossible for other drivers to dodge. The stage is set for severe injuries and fatalities.
When these wrecks occur, several cars may strike one car from different directions. Every vehicle that hits or is hit adds to the carnage of broken glass and deformed metal. Gas and fluid leaks can cause cars to catch fire.
Determining Fault in Multi-Vehicle Personal Injury Cases
Depending on the number of cars involved in a large-scale wreck, a great deal of money will come into play. Insurers typically dispatch only their most experienced claims adjusters to these accident scenes.
Drivers who initiate major accidents are not likely to admit fault. The upshot is that insurance adjusters on the scene will need all of their investigative skills to track down the at-fault driver and determine the underlying reasons for the wreck.
How Are Multi-Vehicle Car Wrecks Sorted Out?
For every vehicle involved in a multi-vehicle collision, the complexity of the case increases, and the process of determining fault becomes more difficult and time-consuming.
Not everyone involved in the wreck will be completely honest about what happened. To track down the truth, the investigators will review police reports, especially those resulting in arrests.
They will also check on whether any of the drivers have been ticketed for any of the following reasons:
- Driving while drunk or high on drugs
- Driving with open alcohol containers or in possession of drugs
- Driving without insurance or without a current driver’s license
- Driving in a dangerous, risky or reckless manner
Concerned drivers sometimes hire private investigators to help sort things out, determine fault and move the case forward. Private eyes routinely work for insurance companies because they can access the personal records of individuals involved in a crash.
These seasoned professionals visit the accident zone to gather any evidence that might have been overlooked. Every bit of new information is like a puzzle pieces that can narrow the search for the at-fault driver.
Where Do Most California Car Accidents Occur?
The majority of fatalities in multi-vehicle collisions take place within 25 miles of home. More than half of all nonfatal car crashes take place less than five miles from home.
Most California multi-vehicle wrecks occur on high-speed urban roadways. On the other hand, many serious three-car collisions take place at intersections and involve vehicles traveling at 35 mph or less.
Most of those accidents are caused by drivers making risky turns.
What Causes Most Multi-Vehicle Crashes?
Distracted driving has overtaken drunk driving as the number-one reason for auto accidents, particularly among younger drivers. However, it’s not always about the smartphone.
Distracted drivers cause accidents while eating, applying makeup, managing their music, consuming beverages and taking photos while the car is in motion.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
California applies the principle of comparative negligence when determining who is at fault in an accident. Under this rule, multiple drivers can be at fault in one collective collision. Your compensation could be reduced or even denied based on the percentage of fault assigned to you.
Fault is determined by the percentage of negligence a driver contributes to an accident. That percentage, which is decided by the insurance companies and the courts, will govern how much the insurance company can pay on your claim.
However, the comparative negligence rule also allows you to file a personal injury claim against a driver who injures you because of negligence, even if you are assigned some degree of negligence yourself.
What Is Fault Mitigation in California Personal Injury Cases?
Even though most roadway pileups are rooted in negligence, drivers are not always responsible for multi-vehicle wrecks. Mitigating circumstances can and do occur.
If you are driving down the highway and, out of nowhere, a large tree falls on your car and crushes it, you are probably not to blame, even if your crushed car causes a massive pileup of the vehicles traveling behind you.
What to Do If You’re Injured in a Multi-Vehicle Collision
- Schedule a consultation with a California personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Explain your situation and find out what to do next.
- Notify your insurance company that you’ve been in a crash.
- Visit a medical professional. Even if you feel okay, remember that car accident injuries may not be apparent until later. If you think you might be injured, get checked out at once.
What If Fault Cannot Be Established?
You can file a personal injury claim even if the at-fault driver cannot be identified. You would file an individual claim against each insurance company that represents a driver involved in the wreck.
When multiple drivers are insured by the same company, you must file a separate claim against each driver. The insurance companies might offer to help by investigating the matter further on your behalf. However, they might conclude that there is insufficient evidence to show that their drivers are at fault.
If you are an injured victim in a multi-vehicle pileup, you don’t have to fight your way to a just settlement. Consult the team at JT Legal Group now for a free and confidential consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney. We’re here for you 24/7.
We’ll explain your legal options after a careful review of your situation and provide all the information you need to obtain the best possible settlement. We’ll advise you about what to do next and what you can expect by way of timelines and compensation.
The personal injury attorneys at JT Legal Group work on a no-win, no-fee basis. If you don’t win, you pay nothing.