Personal Injury

How Does Liability Work in a Multi-Vehicle Crash?

Car accidents of any kind are inconvenient and make life more complicated. However, dealing with a multi-vehicle crash can create an extra headache. While we can’t undo what has already happened, The Carlson Law Firm can help you seek the justice you deserve and get your life back on track. 

How is Fault Determined in Multi-Vehicle Crashes in Texas?

Determining the fault in a multi-vehicle accident may be tricky. In some cases, only one driver might have financial responsibility for damages in a multi-car accident. However, depending on the circumstances, multiple drivers may be liable. 

To have a better idea as to who owes what, lawyers will need to determine the following:

  • Every driver who had a legal duty of care toward other motorists on the road
  • Which breaches of duties of care led to injuries and losses
  • Which driver(s) breached a duty of care in operating a vehicle.

Determining the liability of an accident can be very difficult.  Multiple drivers can contribute to the cause of an accident, and each driver may seek to shift the blame to someone else. In addition, some motorists may even lie to avoid their share of financial liability. In some cases, attorneys and insurance carriers sometimes employ accident reconstruction experts to help them understand how the multi-car crash occurred and who is at fault. 

Sometimes, an accident involving three or more vehicles is caused by the actions of one driver alone. For example, if one of the drivers happens to run a red light because they are intoxicated and impacts three, four, or more vehicles, it is most likely that a single driver would be held responsible for the accident. Being involved in a multi-vehicle crash can be complicated. Fortunately, you have the right to representation that will help you along the way. 

The first step in determining the cause of a multi-vehicle accident is to identify the cause of the accident.

The driver who caused the first accident that eventually led to the multi-car pileup is considered the cause of the chain reaction crashes. Everyone on the road has the duty to drive safely, taking into consideration of the weather, road conditions, and traffic. Most multi-vehicle crashes aren’t accidents, as they can be caused by drivers who may be speeding, driving too fast for the weather conditions, tired, or distracted.

Insurance Claims After the Multi-Vehicle Crash

Texas is an at-fault state. This means that if you are involved in an accident caused by another party, that individual (or their insurance provider) is responsible for compensating you for your injuries and property damage. Usually, in Texas, victims may file a claim under the at-fault party’s policy. However, they can file a claim with their own insurers if they opt for collision coverage or additional coverage options. 

If the victim files a claim with another party’s insurer, there’s a chance that the insurance company may undervalue or deny the victim’s claim. If you’ve been in a car crash, don’t try to deal with insurance companies on your own. Instead, hire a personal injury lawyer with the knowledge and experience to help you get what you’re owed.

Texas is a Comparative Negligence State

Texas is a comparative negligence state. According to the law, the plaintiff can recover compensation for damages as long as they were not mostly responsible for the accident. 

One of the most common reasons for car accidents is negligence. Forms of negligence include a driver’s failure to obey proper laws or conscious decision to act in an unsafe manner. Some examples of negligent driving are:

  • Driving while under the influence of drugs
  • Drinking and driving
  • Failing to stop at a red stoplight
  • Running a stop sign
  • Turning in front of another car
  • Failing to yield

Under the “modified comparative law system,” individuals can still recover compensation even if they are partially at fault. Texas operates with a 51% rule concerning comparative fault. This means that if an individual is responsible for causing 51% or more of their own injuries, they won’t be able to recover compensation. However, if someone is 50% or less responsible for their incident, they are still in a position to recover compensation. Once investigations are complete, percentages of fault will be assigned to some or all of the drivers involved. 

What Can I Do if I am Involved in a Multi-Vehicle Crash?

If you are involved in a multi-car accident, lawyers and insurance adjusters will utilize evidence gathered from the accident, including:

  • Photos: Although photographic evidence isn’t enough to determine financial liability, it will help support other forms of evidence and help investigators place fault on the corresponding driver(s). Some of the examples of photographs you should get include:
      • Any skid marks from heavy braking prior to the collision
      • Any road hazards that may have caused the accident, including dead animals.
  • Videos: Although a video may be able to prove the same type of evidence as a photograph, the video is typically better. Video footage often comes from traffic safety cameras, dashboard cameras, or an eyewitness’s cell phone. In some cases, businesses are asked for their security camera footage to see if they may have captured traffic accidents.
  • Damage to vehicles, including the ones directly ahead and behind you: Law enforcement and investigators will examine the vehicle damage to give them a better idea about how the accident occurred and whether statements from those involved are accurate.
  • Data from an EDR: Newly manufactured vehicles will likely have an electronic data recorder (EDR) similar to an aircraft’s black box. These boxes are installed in some automobiles to record information related to traffic collisions.
  • Paint transfer: Paint often transfers between vehicles when they collide. This form of evidence may help when examining multi-car accidents at high speeds and drivers suffering severe or fatal injuries.
  • Witnesses: When a multi-car collision occurs in a busy area, other drivers or individuals may witness the accident. Although witnesses may not have all the facts, receiving a statement from them can help law enforcement and lawyers piece together what happened, especially when their statements are combined with other forms of evidence.

What Happens if the At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?

Although driving without insurance is illegal in Texas, many people still get behind the wheel without having insurance. Victims hit by uninsured drivers may file uninsured/underinsured motorists (UM/UIM) claims with their own car insurance company. This is common practice for individuals when they are involved in a multi-vehicle crash if the other drivers don’t have enough insurance. 

The confusion one may encounter when dealing with car insurance companies is one of the best reasons to reach out to a personal injury attorney. One of our car accident attorneys can help you during the long legal process. 

The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to multi-vehicle accidents. Insurers may work hard to shift blame onto someone who is innocent or may delay disputing liability or percentages of liability for as long as they can. Don’t waste time; get your vehicle repaired and your life on the right track again by contacting a car accident lawyer. If you have any questions regarding your legal rights, contact us today for a free consultation. We care, and we can help. 

The Carlson Law Firm

The Carlson Law Firm has been representing and protecting clients in Texas and across the nation since 1976. During this time, we have built a reputation for success and have received numerous awards. Our firm is committed to delivering exceptional service and representation but more importantly, we provide you with an experienced team that has your back, one-hundred percent.

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