Being in a motor vehicle accident can be daunting. Being a part of a pileup crash not only adds to the fright of being in an accident, but also brings with it issues of liability in your ensuing civil case. When there are multiple people and vehicles involved, you might be wondering: who is at fault in a multi-car accident? How will fault liability be distributed? More importantly, how can you successfully bring a claim against those who are at fault?
In this article, we discuss the basics of fault liability involving multiple parties in a pileup crash. A pileup crash involves several vehicles and usually occurs when multiple vehicles crash into each other on a roadway. There are many factors that can cause a pileup crash, including:
- Weather conditions, such as slippery roads or fog
- Driver error, such as unsafe speeding, fatigue, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Mechanical causes, such as a non-functioning safety mechanism on a vehicle
A pileup may happen after one car rear-ends another, pushing it into another vehicle. They often occur at intersections, such as when one driver fails to obey a traffic signal, causing several vehicles to crash into each other. And perhaps most terrifying are highway pileup crashes, which can involve dozens of vehicles traveling at high speed.
Can Multiple Parties Be to Blame for a Pileup Crash?
It isn’t uncommon for multiple parties to be the cause of a pileup crash. Imagine, for example, that a pileup results at an intersection, where one party runs through a red light, hitting another car that is speeding at the time. The second car, in turn, careens into a third vehicle, seriously injuring the driver. Both the first and second drivers contributed to the cause of the accident. After all, if it hadn’t been for the two drivers’ respective negligence, the third driver would never have been injured. Does this mean the injured driver must choose only one person to sue for their damages?
In short, usually, there isn’t a need to choose. The injured party may bring claims against all of the parties who were at fault, through a process called joint and several liability, which means responsibility is shared by two or more parties. You may choose to bring suit against any or all of the parties at fault, and it is possible to recover damages against any or all defendants.
It’s important to note that you’ll need to prove each element of each claim you bring against each defendant. For example, if you bring a negligence claim against two different drivers, you’ll need to prove that each driver’s actions contributed to the cause of your damages, and that each driver breached their duty to stay safe on the road.
How is Fault Determined, and How are Damages Shared?
Determining who is at fault in a multi-car accident is typically the job of the jury, the main fact-finder in any personal injury matter. It’s important to investigate and identify the cause of the first crash, and then trace the rest of the chain reaction to ascertain all of the parties who are at fault. This requires a thorough investigation of the scene of the accident, the evidence collected, and the statements of the parties and witnesses.
Joint and several liability often means apportioning a percentage of fault to each defendant. How does that work? Let’s take the above example of a three-car pileup. Say that the jury – after carefully reviewing the facts – decides that while both drivers caused the accident, the first driver, who had gone through the red light, was slightly more negligent. The jury, therefore, assigns 60 percent of fault liability to that driver, and 40 percent of fault liability to the second driver who was speeding.
Once liability is apportioned, typically the responsibility for paying damages follows the same distribution. So, in the example above, the first driver would be liable for 60 percent of the injured party’s damages, and the second driver would be liable for 40 percent.
It’s easy to see how complex the issues of liability and damages can become in a multi-car accident case. With so many parties involved, it can be difficult to prove liability and recover damages without professional help. Moreover, in addition to having to prepare an effective lawsuit against multiple defendants, the process may entail negotiating with multiple insurance companies, which can be daunting.
How can Johnson Garcia Law Help if You’ve Been in a Pileup?
A Texas multi-car accident can lead to a complicated lawsuit, sometimes requiring the preparation of multiple claims and extensive investigation of the facts. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help with the process of bringing claims against multiple parties who are at fault.
We have over 30 years of combined personal injury experience, giving us a keen understanding of the accident settlement process, and we’re well-equipped to handle even the most complicated cases, including pileup crashes involving multiple parties. We are so committed to our client’s success that we won’t take payment unless you win. Contact us today or give us a call at 832-400-6130 to schedule a completely free consultation.