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Liability and Recovering Compensation in a Multi-car Accident

Posted in Car Accidents on September 1, 2020

Determining liability is the most crucial aspect of every car accident. The liable party is financially responsible for some or all damages incurred as a result of injury. Lawyers, insurance adjusters, and courts sometimes have challenges with liability when only two cars are involved in an accident. When a multi-vehicle accident occurs, the challenges of determining liability drastically increase.

Multi-car accidents mean multiple drivers and multiple insurance companies, making cases complex. Adding an extra layer of frustration for all involved is the fact that liability is often shared among more than one party. Insurance companies play ‘pass the buck’ continuously shifting blame away from their policyholder.

Fortunately, experienced car accident attorneys understand the complexities of multi-car accidents, know how to build a case, and advocate for their clients to recover compensation after a multi-car accident. Below we provide a broad overview of types of multi-vehicle collisions and relevant information about liability and recovering compensation in a multi-car accident.

Common Types of Multi-car Crashes

Many traffic accidents can lead to a multi-car crash, but some are more common than others. They include:

Rear-end Accidents

A rear-end accident occurs when one car strikes the rear of another vehicle. Depending on the speed at which the accident occurred and traffic conditions, a rear-end accident can start a chain reaction that includes multiple vehicles. The driver who was struck can get pushed into the vehicle in front of them, or the accident happens so quickly, the driver in the rear also suffers a rear-end collision from the vehicle in the rear. The chain can move forward, backward, or both.

Head-On Accidents

A head-on collision occurs when one vehicle collides with the front of another. It’s not uncommon for these accidents to block traffic in one or more lanes. In heavy traffic, nearby drivers sometimes cannot react quickly enough to avoid crashing into one of the vehicles in the original crash. This can lead to a multi-car pileup that causes a devastating about of destruction, injuries, and sometimes fatalities.

T-bone Accidents

A T-bone accident most often occurs at an intersection. Maybe one driver runs a light or a stop sign, or a driver makes an unsafe turn. The result is one car striking another vehicle perpendicularly, so it makes a “T” shape. Intersections are already dangerous places, but when a T-bone accident occurs other cars need to act quickly to avoid being part of the collision. A T-bone that occurs at high speed typically pushes the other vehicle into the way of oncoming traffic, easily leading to a multi-vehicle accident.

Cargo Accidents

Truck drivers and employees at trucking companies are responsible for safely securing cargo for transport. When cargo isn’t secure or when a truck accident causes cargo to spill, other vehicles risk accidents and injury. Liquid spills can cause cars to hydroplane into other vehicles and other types of spills cause vehicles to swerve to avoid the cargo, sometimes crashing into others. Large trucks take up so much space on the road that more than one vehicle is often involved in a truck accident.

Determining the At-Fault Parties in a Multi-car Accident

Proving fault in a car accident means you have to prove negligence. Negligence has four elements: duty, breach of duty, harm, and causation. Here is an overview of each element and how it pertains to a multi-vehicle collision:

  • Each driver on the road has a duty of care towards others with whom they share the road.
  • When an accident occurs, one or more parties have breached their duty.
  • The breach of duty must have caused harm to you or others in the collision.
  • The breach of duty must be the cause of the multi-vehicle accident.

Causation is the muddiest part of proving fault in a multi-car collision. More than one party can contribute to the cause of the accident and everyone involved will argue that someone else caused the accident. Some drivers even lie. Lawyers and insurance adjusters often have to employ experts like accident reconstruction specialists to understand exactly how a multi-vehicle crash occurred. Typically, the results include blaming multiple parties for a portion of the accident.

Louisiana’s Comparative Negligence Law

Louisiana courts adhere to comparative negligence, which is the notion of shared liability in a personal injury case. This is especially true when more than two parties are involved in an accident. The court reviews the evidence, determines who was negligent, and assigns a percentage portion of fault to each negligent party.

The percentage fault is applied to court-awarded damage as a reduction in compensation. For example, if you file a $50,000 personal injury claim involving two other drivers and the court finds you were 25 percent to blame for the accident, you can only recover $37,000, which is your initial claim minus your percentage fault. If you aren’t at fault, but the court finds two other drivers were each 50 percent to blame, you receive $25,000 in damages from each party.

Time Limit for Filing a Claim After a Multi-car Accident

Each state has a statute of limitations for bringing a lawsuit after a car accident. Louisiana has one of the shortest time limits; you must file a suit within a year of the date of the accident. If the time limit runs out prior to you filing a lawsuit, it’s highly unlikely a court will hear your case and you will miss the opportunity to recover compensation for your injuries. Some rare exceptions occur, especially if you were in a coma or suffered injuries that prevented you from taking action. Your attorney can evaluate your case and advise you if your situation warrants petitioning the court for an extension to the statute of limitations.

Contact The Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC After a New Orleans Multi-Car Accident

If you have suffered injuries in a multiple vehicle collision in or around New Orleans, let the skilled legal team at The Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC navigate the complexities of your case and recover compensation. Contact us today online or 504-500-5000 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your accident and injuries.