He Said, She Said
Determining Fault in Multi-Car Accidents
Car accidents can be challenging enough to deal with when there are only two vehicles involved, but when you add other vehicles to the equation it can be difficult to determine exactly who is at fault.
While the responding officer’s findings are not considered the end of the conversation, they do carry weight during negotiations for settlement of a car accident lawsuit.
“While still on the scene of the accident, victims should take as many pictures as possible and get the names and phone numbers of all witnesses. They should then seek medical attention and visit with an attorney to determine next steps,” Brad says.
Initially, if police officers are called to the scene of an accident, they will attempt to determine fault for the pileup in order to issue citations and to help prevent the incident from occurring again. While gathering information, the officers will interview the drivers and witnesses, and they will examine the vehicles for evidence.
“In these multi-car accident cases, there is a lot of blame swirling around. Many factors have to be considered, like if someone was tailgating, not going the speed limit or simply not paying attention,” Brad says.
Insurance companies are likely to make their own assumptions about who is at fault while trying to determine how much a case is worth and whether the claim should be satisfied.
Brad says, “We routinely represent clients who have been injured by non-insured or underinsured drivers. That’s why it’s important to have a lot of insurance to protect yourself from those who don’t have any.”
Five Steps to Take When Involved in a Multi-Car Accident
Step 1 - Assess where your vehicle was hit or how you hit another vehicle.
How did the accident occur? Did you hit another vehicle or were you hit by another vehicle? If the following pertained to how the accident occurred, liability for causing the accident could rest with another driver if the other driver rear-ended you or if the other driver T-boned you while making a left-hand turn.
Step 2 – Try to assess whether any involved motorists broke a traffic law.
Did another driver run a red light or stop sign? Were they tailgating or texting while driving? If so, determining fault in car accidents can be easy, as that other motorist will generally be deemed to have been liable for the collision.
Here, we want to point out that, in the event that multiple drivers (or parties) may have broken traffic laws prior to a collision, a percentage of the liability will be attributed to each of the involved motorists who broke the law.
Step 3 – Talk to the other involved drivers and any witnesses on the scene.
After car accidents, talking to the other drivers involved can be important to exchanging the pertinent insurance and contact information. During this time, other drivers may also say things off the cuff that could play a role in determining fault in car accidents. When drivers say things like, “Sorry, I didn’t know you were there” or “I didn’t mean to hit you,” these statements can used to prove liability. What witnesses to an accident saw prior, during and/or after a collision can also be vital in determining fault after car accidents.
Step 4 – Request a copy of the police report for the accident.
When it’s not possible to exchange information with drivers involved in an accident, obtaining a copy of the police report for the accident and carefully reviewing it can reveal some crucial info that can help with determining fault in car accidents.
Step 5 –Seek medical attention and contact an experienced attorney.
It goes without saying that if you are injured in an accident, seek medical attention. Of all of the steps you can take in determining fault in car accidents, the single most important thing to do is to contact a trusted personal injury attorney.