More often than not, car accidents will involve two cars and only one of the drivers will actually be negligent (ex. a typical rear-end collision). However, there are times where multiple vehicles are involved. These multi-vehicle auto accidents present a number of complicated issues.
Understanding Multi-Vehicle Auto Accidents
1. Determining Who Is At Fault
The first step in any auto accident case is to determine who should be held legally responsible. When there are multiple vehicles involved, this can get pretty tricky.
For example, assume that there are three cars in a row, the first vehicle stops at a red light, the second vehicle crashes into it, and the third vehicle crashes into the second vehicle, pushing it into the first vehicle. In that scenario, the first vehicle would not be responsible but the next two vehicles would be.
On the other hand, assume that the first vehicle stopped, the second vehicle stopped, and then the third vehicle collided with the second vehicle and pushed it into the first vehicle. In that hypothetical scenario, the second vehicle likely would not be found to be negligent but the third vehicle would be.
2. Determining the Amount of Fault for Each Driver
Determining that somebody was negligent is not the end of the analysis. Louisiana uses “comparative fault,” which means that you have to determine the percentage of responsibility that should be borne by the different bad actors.
Sticking with the first hypothetical we used above, it may well be that the second vehicle barely collided with the first vehicle but the impact from the third vehicle was severe. Or it could be that the impact from both vehicles was relatively similar. This is something that will have to be evaluated by your attorney and then, if the case does not resolve, decided by a judge or jury.
3. Settling Multi-Vehicle Auto Accident Cases
Once you’ve determined who should bear responsibility and have an idea of how much responsibility they should bear, you will want to see if a settlement is possible. The problem with this is that the other drivers (more specifically, their insurance companies) will likely not see it the same way. This means that they will try to minimize their role in the accident to reduce the amount of money they will have to pay in settlement.
This presents an additional complication in reaching a settlement. Not only will you have them attempting to undercut the total amount of damages that you have suffered but they will also say that they should only be responsible for some low percentage of that amount. This is but one of the countless reasons why you are better served having a car accident lawyer assist you with your case.
4. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) Claims and Multi-Vehicle Auto Accidents
UM coverage applies when you have been injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. The complication presented by a multi-vehicle auto accident is that this presents another layer (or multiple layers) of insurance that will have to be exhausted before your UM policy will pay. In other words, you may have to get the other drivers to pay out their policy limits (assuming, of course, that they have insurance) before you can collect your UM policy.
Call a New Orleans Car Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in an car accident or truck accident, The Mahone Firm is here to help. Call (504) 564-7342 to discuss your potential case with an injury lawyer today. There is no charge for a consultation.