If you were in a car accident involving more than two vehicles, the first question you might be asking is, “who is going to pay for all of this?” Accidents often result in losses like vehicle repair bills, medical costs, lost wages, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
The answer to the question posed above is complex. It will depend upon the unique facts and circumstances of your accident, the actions of the other parties involved in the accident, and the local laws, procedures, and case precedents in your area. This information can take quite a bit of time to learn and even more time to learn how to apply in your local courts, which is why it is highly advisable to have an experienced car accident attorney on your side as soon as possible after a wreck.
Below, we will explore common causes of car accidents, how insurance companies and courts determine liability, and how your local car accident attorney can help ensure that you obtain the highest possible settlement or award.
How Three-Car Accidents Happen
A multi-car accident can happen for various reasons and invariably result in complicated legal claims. In crashes involving more than two vehicles, just one driver can bear fault, all drivers can share fault, or only some of the drivers can share fault.
For example, if a distracted driver slams into a car at a stoplight, pushing that vehicle into the vehicle in front of it, the distracted driver will likely bear liability for the damage to both.
On the other hand, if one vehicle makes an illegal left turn and collides with another speeding car, and the collision sends the first vehicle spinning into another vehicle, two drivers may share liability.
Fault is difficult to determine in some situations, as other parties may also be liable. Your car accident attorney has the knowledge and experience needed to determine the liable parties. Also, your lawyer can ensure that you collect the full compensation you are entitled to so that you aren’t left paying costs associated with your accident out of your pocket.
Driver Negligence that Can Lead to Multi-Vehicle Accidents
Under state law, drivers are liable for any losses they cause due to their negligence. Negligence occurs when a person fails to use the degree of care that a reasonable person would ordinarily exercise in the same or similar circumstances.
For example, one driver may have been fiddling with the radio, talking with a passenger, texting or talking on their cellphone, or doing something else that takes their eyes off the road. All of these actions result in distracted driving. When a driver engages in distracted driving, they are liable for the damages resulting from any accidents they cause.
Some other examples of driver negligence that could lead to multi-vehicle accidents include:
- Running stop signs
- Making illegal turns
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Failing to signal lane changes
- Following too closely
Fortunately, knowing what the other driver was doing in the moments before they hit you isn’t necessary to win your case. As a responsible driver, you were likely paying attention to the road and driving following the law. Likewise, you cannot know if the other vehicles involved had a manufacturing defect that caused the accident.
Your experienced car accident attorney knows what questions to ask and different legal instruments to use, like depositions, requests for production, and interrogatories to collect the evidence you need to collect the full damages the law entitles you to.
Drunk Driving Is a Common Cause of Multi-Vehicle Accidents
Another common cause of accidents on the roads today is intoxicated driving, whether related to drugs, alcohol, or prescription drugs. When drivers are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they cannot safely operate their vehicles. In addition, they will be liable for any damages and injuries that result from the crash. Drunk and intoxicated driving puts the driver, other drivers, pedestrians, and property at risk due to the high potential of accidents when driving under the influence.
If you believe that the driver that caused your accident is drunk, you should call the police immediately. If the police share your suspicion, they will likely subject the driver in question to sobriety testing and may arrest them for drunk driving. If the driver is ultimately convicted or pleads guilty to the charge, it can make it much easier to obtain compensation for your losses.
In Some Cases, Third Parties Cause Multi-Vehicle Accidents
The parties at fault in an accident and liable for the damages you have experienced can sometimes be third parties who were not directly involved in the accident.
They can include the employers of commercial truck drivers responsible for maintaining a safe fleet of vehicles and allowing their drivers enough time off between shifts to ensure they get adequate rest and can safely operate large vehicles. Similarly, rideshare companies or vehicle manufacturers could potentially be liable for a multi-vehicle accident.
If a truck driver hits you, it is important to know that the law requires commercial truck drivers to use reasonable care while driving. In fact, the law requires them to use extreme care in hazardous conditions. If a truck driver’s lack of appropriate care resulted in an accident that injured you, there is a strong chance that you are entitled to compensation for your losses. The liable party will be the truck driver’s employer in many cases.
Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have often been liable for multi-vehicle accidents in recent years. Thousands of rideshare vehicles on the road carry both passengers, food, and mail to houses across the United States.
If you are hit by an Uber or Lyft driver or injured while a passenger in an Uber or Lyft, you may recover compensation for your damages. Your car accident attorney can determine whether you can recover compensation from the driver, the rideshare company, or both.
Vehicle and Vehicle Equipment Manufacturers
Third parties may also be liable in car accidents when an equipment defect or malfunction causes a multi-vehicle crash. Vehicle defects can range from serious design or manufacturing issues that result in a widespread recall or a problem with one particular vehicle. In addition, defective vehicle equipment can also result in third-party liability. An experienced lawyer can review your case and determine whether there is any evidence that a vehicle defect caused your accident.
How Do You Seek Compensation for Your Losses?
After you have suffered injuries in an accident that you believe was another party’s fault, the process of recovering compensation typically begins with filing a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.
Generally, the other driver’s insurance company will be responsible for paying your damages. To file your initial claim, you’ll have to determine who that insurance company is. In some cases, the police may have gathered that information for you. If you don’t have it, your car accident attorney can identify the company with which you can file a claim.
The compensation you collect will depend on an accurate demonstration of your damages. Accurately demonstrating your damages, in turn, requires supporting your claim with evidence of the losses you are claiming. This evidence can include medical reports, expert opinions, and your account of your experience.
Once you have filed your claim, the insurance company and its team of analysts and attorneys will carefully scrutinize your claim and the evidence provided. They do this to determine if they can deny it, or if not, what the least amount they can pay you will be.
Insurance companies often deny legitimate claims in the hopes that the claimant doesn’t go through the trouble of appealing. If they do not deny the claim, the insurance company hopes to negotiate the lowest possible settlement. Insurance companies do not work for you; they work for profit and make a profit by maximizing revenues and minimizing costs.
The insurance company’s revenues are the premiums they collect from their customers, and a significant portion of their costs are the amount paid out in claims like yours. Without the assistance of an attorney from the start, the insurance company will almost certainly use your lack of knowledge to encourage you to accept a low settlement offer that leaves you footing the bills associated with the accident.
How Much Compensation Can You Recover?
The amount you are entitled to collect in a car accident depends upon your losses. These losses often include the costs associated with your repairs, the short- and long-term costs associated with your medical care, and any lost wages, work benefits, or earnings potential you experience.
The cost required to replace or repair any property damaged in the accident might be the first thing you consider after your accident. Still, the other costs associated with an accident can be significantly higher. If you accept a settlement without having an attorney review your case, the compensation you receive may not cover all of your losses.
The law entitles you to all short- and long-term medical costs associated with your injuries. In the short term, these costs will likely include the cost of emergency medical care immediately after the accident.
Immediately seek out emergency medical care to determine the severity and extent of your injuries and receive any necessary treatment. After you have received emergency medical care, it is important to seek out a follow-up expert medical opinion to determine what your symptoms mean in the long term and any issues, medications, treatments, or rehabilitation they might require in the future.
Additionally, your local car accident lawyer likely has a network of medical and occupational experts to provide you with the information you need to accurately measure your damages.
If you cannot work, an occupational expert can consider the symptoms associated with your injuries and measure their impact on your ability to earn a living. The law entitles you to compensation for lost wages, both in the short and long term. For this reason, cases involving serious injuries that can result in disabilities often result in significant compensation for victims.
The Importance of a Car Accident Lawyer for Complicated Claims
Lawyers hotly contest legal claims involving multi-vehicle accidents. In many cases, the parties all blame each other to avoid liability. An experienced car accident lawyer will know how to determine who is at fault in your accident, how to assemble evidence in support of your claim, including collecting opinions from medical and occupational experts, and how to negotiate the best possible compensation for your injuries.
When it comes time to decide upon a lawyer, it is important to ensure that they have the knowledge and experience needed to achieve the best outcome in your case. Before hiring a lawyer, make sure they have a track record of success in car accident cases and have the resources needed to litigate a complicated claim.
Paying a Car Accident Lawyer After a Multi-Vehicle Accident
After a car accident, you may worry about how you will afford legal representation. That you are also dealing with unexpected expenses related to your accident, like medical expenses and repair bills, may exacerbate this concern.
Fortunately for victims, car accident attorneys usually take cases on contingency, which means that they only get paid if you do. Any legal fees you pay will come out of the settlement or award that you receive, so you will never need to pay for legal help out of pocket.
Abels & Annes
100 N LaSalle St #1710
Chicago, IL 60602