After any car accident, the liable party will be responsible for paying for damages to the vehicles and any medical bills the injured party faces due to injuries sustained in the accident. Identifying the liable party is critical. After a multi-vehicle accident, however, identifying the liable party can prove more confusing.
Why Can Liability Prove Confusing in a Multi-Vehicle Accident
If you suffer injuries or damage to your vehicle in a multi-vehicle accident, it may take an in-depth investigation to fully uncover who caused the accident, including all factors that may have contributed to it.
1. Multiple parties may have committed negligent actions behind the wheel.
Multi-vehicle accidents can occur in a variety of ways. Speeding or reckless drivers can quickly cause accidents with more than one vehicle. A distracted driver may miss slamming on his brakes in time to avoid a collision, sending the car in front of him plowing forward into another vehicle. Sometimes, a distracted driver can miss the behavior of another driver behaving recklessly, which can result in severe injury to multiple parties.
In a multi-vehicle accident, officers must carefully evaluate how each party’s negligence may have contributed to the accident. For example, a speeding driver may have been the first to clip another vehicle, but if he clipped a distracted driver with his hands on his cell phone, it may have taken him too long to respond and prevent his vehicle from spinning into another car. Quickly, the accident can involve multiple vehicles, many of which may contribute to the incident.
2. It may take an in-depth investigation to determine what happened.
What started the chain of events that led to a multi-vehicle accident? Did one driver behave particularly recklessly, ignoring the rules of the road? Did a calamity of errors bring all vehicles together? Investigating a multi-vehicle accident often involves a great deal more complexity than investigating an accident that involves only two drivers. Often, each driver involved in the accident has his own story about what led to it.
In many cases, the drivers involved in a multi-vehicle accident may have trouble identifying what happened to cause other facets of the accident. Driver A might know that Driver B hit him, causing him to hit Driver C, but he may not realize that Driver A hit him due to the actions of Driver D. Likewise, Driver C may realize that Driver A hit him, but he may not realize that it started with Driver B or D. In order to piece together the events that actually led to the accident, officers may have to take statements from all involved drivers. Often, it can prove difficult to piece together exactly what caused the accident. Officers and insurance investigators may need to look at dash cam footage, check for traffic camera footage, and talk to witnesses about the accident in hopes of piecing together an accurate picture of exactly what happened to cause the accident. Often, the investigation may include bringing in expert witnesses to take a look at damage to the vehicles and determine what may have led or contributed to the accident.
3. In Louisiana, comparative fault matters.
If you suffer injuries in a multi-vehicle accident, it matters who caused the accident. Louisiana has a pure comparative fault law. If you are judged to have caused at least 51% percent of the multi-vehicle accident, you cannot recover damages from the other vehicles involved in the accident. On the other hand, if you are judged to have caused less than 51% of the damage in the accident, you may have the right to recover compensation from the other parties involved in the accident, most notably those that contributed the most to it.
If you contributed to the accident, however, it can reduce the amount of compensation you can receive for the damages and injuries you sustained in your auto accident by the percentage you contributed.
In many cases, insurance adjusters will need to fully investigate the accident to determine whether you contributed to it in any way as well as who, exactly, bears liability for the accident. This can slow down the ability to process your claim, which means it may take longer before you can get the settlement you need.
4. Parties other than the drivers of the vehicles may share liability for the accident.
In some cases, the drivers of the vehicles may share liability with other entities, which can further complicate the process of seeking compensation following a multi-vehicle accident.
Suppose, for example, that one driver worked as a delivery driver for a well-known pizza chain in the area. He was on the clock and delivering a pizza at the time of the accident. However, he notified his employer that he was having brake problems, and indicated that he might not need to take his vehicle on the road for deliveries that evening. His employer pushed him to handle his normal work shift anyway. When brake failure causes an accident, as the driver predicted, his employer may share liability for damage sustained in that accident.
Likewise, in some cases, liability for that brake failure may rest with another party. For example, if a mechanic recently worked on the brakes and certified the car as road-worthy, but the brakes failed again, the mechanic may share liability for the accident. On the other hand, if the malfunction occurred due to a manufacturing error, the manufacturer may share liability for the accident.
The insurance companies involved in a multi-vehicle accident may need to fully investigate every element of the accident before arriving at an agreement of who, exactly, contributed to the accident and what fault they bear. This investigation may take longer due to the multiple vehicles involved and the considerable opportunity for additional factors to contribute to the accident.
If you suffered injuries in a multi-vehicle accident, an attorney can help investigate the accident and give you a deeper understanding of your right to compensation. Contact Allan Berger & Associates today at 504-526-2222 to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your rights.