Some auto accidents are relatively simple and clear cut cases of obvious neglect by one particular driver, but others are not so simple and often get very complicated when multiple parties are involved. Multiple parties also means multiple insurance companies, with all of them usually trying to deflect fault for the accident away from their client. This is done for a variety of reasons, but all are an attempt at reducing the total payout for the insurance company. Fault is always a central issue in an Arizona auto accident because the state does not use “no fault” insurance law. Anyone in Arizona has the right to sue a negligent driver for full damages following a crash, and often this can include punitive damages when the act was intentional or involves a trucking company that requires drivers to skirt the rules and regulations of the highway. Whether or not to hire an attorney depends on the material case facts of the mishap, but injured plaintiffs who handle their claims personally are rarely compensated equitably or fairly.
What an Auto Accident Attorney Can Do
Attorneys are officers of the court just like police and prosecutors, and they also have the right to investigate all aspects of a car wreck involving their clients. This includes crafting a version of events that is most advantageous to their client with respect to fault determination by the state or claims of the defending insurance company. Pure comparative negligence law is the state standard, meaning that even drivers who were largely at fault for their own accident injuries can still be compensated in an amount that discounts the level of their comparative negligence. This is an area of negotiation that the insurance companies always try to control, and having your own legal team is important for an accurate determination of personal fault. An attorney can also investigate the citation history of a driver or their employer when a commercial vehicle is involved, which can then be made part of the record. This is the beginning of establishing an additional punitive damage request as well when an attorney feels confident they can win the award in jury trial.
Determining Pain and Suffering Settlements
The first component of an auto accident case will usually be directed at replacing a vehicle or providing a rental car until the personal vehicle is repaired or covered by compensation. Medical bills may be submitted initially as well, but do not be surprised if the responsible insurance company defends against the diagnosis or requests a second opinion from a doctor they commonly use for rebuttal purposes. The diagnosis and prognosis of the second opinion doctor is used to limit the amount of discomfort and pain claims associated with recovering from the injury or dealing with it long-term. This is by no means a scientific calculation process, and having your own aggressive personal legal representative team means your non-economic allowance in the settlement will be more significant than a novice injured plaintiff can negotiate. Auto accident attorneys are trained professional negotiators just like insurance claims agents or corporate attorneys, and you will need protection from excessive defensive claims.
Going to Trial
Trying an accident case is an area of law where an experienced trial attorney excels the most. Cases can go to trial by the request of any involved party, including the plaintiff, and often occurs either when the defense thinks they can win a acquittal or the plaintiff attorney thinks they can win a punitive damage award from a sympathetic jury. They are common in cases where the defendant is a corporation or the respondent negligent driver was impaired or acted intentionally. It always take an aggressive trial attorney who is diligently focused on making their client financially whole when the insurance company has acted in bad faith or the negligent party was guilty of gross negligence. Product liability claims can also be a component of any auto accident case, and these claims are often fought sternly by manufacturers when the particular defective product malfunctions in an isolated situation.
It is always important to consult with an experienced auto accident attorney following an accident because injury claims can be much more valuable than the injured victim understands. A solid attorney will pursue all avenues of recompense in an effort to win the client a maximum award or settlement.
Common sense and basic knowledge of traffic laws might make it seem like any driver that runs into the back of another is completely at-fault. Although it is true that drivers must maintain a safe distance from the car ahead, there are plenty of circumstances that would be considered shared liability. Don’t assume that you will be determined completely innocent just because you were struck in the back of your vehicle. Rear-end collisions are very common, and it’s important that all drivers are aware of potential liability when involved in such an accident.
Q: Can I Be Found Liable if My Car Is Rear-Ended in a Crash?
A: An investigation of any car accident is going to entail evaluating the damage that has been done to each vehicle. A lot of details will come to light that could potentially prove that the driver of the front vehicle in a rear-end collision has some fault. Accidents that involve more than two vehicles are more complicated because the driver of the middle car may not be liable. If a third car driver smashed into the second car with enough impact to collide with the first car, they could be dealing with a claim from both other drivers. Every accident is different, and it’s possible to be found liable in any position if you are believed to have contributed or caused the crash to occur.
Q: What is Rear-Ended Driver Negligence?
A: You could be liable for another car crashing into the back of your vehicle if you were driving unsafely or violating traffic laws. Partial liability is determined based on the cause of the accident, such as a blown tire that causes you to lose control. Fault brake lights that fail to signal to the driver behind you could be considered negligence regarding vehicle maintenance. Even though your car may have been hit from behind, you may have trouble recovering money if you somehow contributed to the accident.
Q: Is it Legally Favorable To Be Rear-Ended?
A: It would be foolish to say that any auto accident is favorable, but it’s always reassuring to know that you aren’t at-fault. A car that is following too closely doesn’t have time to react if you must make a sudden stop for any reason, and that driver will almost always be responsible. It’s common that rear-end collisions occur due to a negligent driver on their cell phone or distracted by something other than the task of driving. More than half of the rear-end collision accidents reported in 2013 were caused by texting or talking on a cell phone. Although the circumstances are unfortunate for both drivers, the person that was rear-ended is going to have an easier time proving that they have no liability.
Q: What is Comparative or Contributory Negligence?
A: If you’ve been involved in a rear-end collision that caused a personal injury or vehicle damage, you’ll need the law on your side to claim a settlement. There may be a chance to collect some money even if you know that you contributed to some degree. Comparative negligence basically relies on determining how much fault each driver has so that the plaintiff can get a reasonable settlement. The idea of contributory negligence is a bit harsher because the plaintiff may not be able to get any financial help if they are somewhat responsible for the accident.
Taking Legal Action
Suffering a personal injury and the expense of vehicle repairs following a rear-end collision is potentially life-changing. Most people cannot afford unexpected medical treatment, car repair or replacement, and lost wages that typically result from a serious accident. Severe injuries may make it impossible to perform at work, and victims often have outrageous medical expenses that push them into debt. An experienced personal injury lawyer understands all of the current laws pertaining to rear-end collisions and determining liability for such circumstances. They are your absolute best asset when it comes to making a claim for financial compensation, and an attorney will fight for a better offer than the insurance companies typically make to a victim. Even if you did contribute to the accident in some way, it may be possible to make a claim that will help you overcome the financial burdens.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 people die every day as a result of alcohol-impaired driving. This figure translates to one death in every 53 minutes. The annual cost of drunk driving crashes totals to more than $44 billion. If you have been involved in an accident as a result of drunk driving from the other party, then chances are that you have a good case.
At this point, you may be contemplating whether it is in your best interest to hire a drunk driving accident. If a conviction has been made for drunk driving. The insurance company will move to make a claim so as to avoid a lawsuit. In most cases, they will look to settle within the shortest time possible. For starters, you need to inform them that you intend to get full compensation for any injuries incurred, and the damage to the car as well. If this your first time, it is wise to consult with drunk driving or personal injury attorney. On your own, you may not be in a position to determine what constitutes a fair settlement.
There are several types of damages awarded in auto accident claims. Compensatory damages are awarded to cater for medical bills, loss of income and any other out-of-pocket expenses incurred. However, in most cases, injuries may also result in mental pain and anguish. These are categorized under “general damages”. To receive damages for pain and suffering, the victim will have to demonstrate that they have suffered pain and mental anguish. In such an instance, it is wise to involve a lawyer. They have vast experience in these cases, and they have dealt with insurance adjusters and judges before. In some drunk driving cases, “punitive damages” can also be awarded. This is applicable in egregious and despicable actions. Punitive compensation is awarded to discourage the repeat of such conduct. As evidenced, seeking the advice and representation of a lawyer can help you secure the full value of your claim.
While most auto accidents are handled outside of court. There are unique circumstances where it would be prudent to have the case heard in court. An auto accident lawyer will assess the merits of the case and advise you on the best course of action. If the case goes to trial, you need a lawyer who can face the adjusters and any other party relevant to the claim.
Apart from the drunk driver, there can be other parties who are at fault in the case. In some cases, the drunk driver may not be the only person liable. For instance, if the driver consumed alcohol at a local bar and he was served with more alcohol even after obvious signs of intoxication, then the bar can also be held liable in part. The same can apply if the drunk driver in question is a minor. The parents, the owner of the car or the bar can be liable in this case.
Auto accident and personal injury lawsuits are governed by different state laws and statutes. In most cases, lawsuits cannot be filed after two to three years. However, some states impose a shorter period of one year. As such, you need to engage an auto accident so that you do not file a claim after this period has expired.
If the car accident is fatal, then the law provides that the surviving estate can file for a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death suits are emotional and delicate. If you have lost a loved one a caregiver, you may not be in the best frame of mind to prepare for a legal case. In such cases, all the parties will fight hard as none will want to have to pay for wrongful death. Even when the circumstances leading to the death are clear, these cases can often take turns and twists.
Auto accidents can have far reaching consequences on your health and well-being. In most cases, the effects can last a life time. Given that there is so much at stake, it is good to consult with an auto accident lawyer. They can help you get compensation based on the merits of your injuries and the long-term consequences.
It can be challenging enough to determine who is at fault in a two-vehicle accident. But it’s even more complicated to determine liability in a chain reaction collision. Multiple drivers may be at fault, to varying degrees. For example, one driver may be deemed 50 percent at fault, another 30 percent and another 20 percent. Further complicating matters, bad weather and poor road conditions are frequently culprits in chain reaction collisions.
Here is what you need to consider if you have been involved in a multi-car pile-up.
Q: What are Causes and liability issues in chain reaction accidents?
A: In a typical multiple-vehicle collision, a distracted or impaired driver fails to notice the cars ahead slowing down and crashes into one, causing multiple rear-end collisions. If all the vehicles were driving safely except the first one, it may be easy to determine fault.
But what if the second driver was tailgating the vehicle in front of him? It’s a basic rule of driving that motorists must keep a safe distance between their car and the car in front of them. This is necessary to give the driver time to brake in case of unexpected situations, such as road hazards or another car abruptly slamming its brakes. A driver who does not put a safe distance between their car and the car ahead and rear ends that car will in most cases be deemed negligent.
Let’s look at another example. A car is heading down a freeway behind a pickup truck loaded with furniture. Suddenly a piece of furniture falls out, the driver in the car slams on her brakes, but the cars behind her cannot stop in time, causing a pile-up. It’s possible she will not be deemed at fault. But what if she was speeding or making an illegal lane change at the time? And what if the driver behind her could have stopped in time, but he was sending a text message? You can quickly see how chain reaction accidents can get legally complicated.
Here are some other common issues at play in multiple-vehicle pile-ups:
- Bad weather: Fog, snow, dust storms, heavy rain and hail can reduce visibility to zero and produce slippery roads. But just because the weather is bad doesn’t mean drivers can blame the elements if they get into an accident. According to the DMV, in low visibility situations, drivers must slow down significantly. If there is no visibility, drivers must pull off the road, turn on their hazard lights, and step away from the vehicle and the roadway to keep safe in case of a chain reaction collision. If drivers fail to take the proper precautions in bad weather, they can be deemed liable for an accident.
- Driving while distracted: Texting, talking on the phone or otherwise using a cell phone are some of the most common causes of multi-car pile-ups. Drivers can also become distracted by their passenger(s), reading a map, eating, applying makeup, looking at another accident, or falling asleep. If it can be proved a driver was distracted, he or she will likely be deemed at least partially liable for the accident.
- Driving under the influence: Obviously, some of the most severe accidents occur due to the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Q: What to do after a chain reaction accident?
A: The first thing you should do after a chain reaction accident is to contact the police. If you are not injured, check whether your passenger or any of the drivers have been injured and perform first aid where necessary.
You should also ensure you exchange insurance information with all the drivers involved in the incident, and obtain witness information if there are witnesses. Try to collect as much information from the scene of the accident as possible by making short notes and taking photos of the crash site and the damaged vehicles.
When the police arrive, narrate your side of the story clearly. If you have been injured or your car has been damaged, you should contact your insurance provider immediately for compensation purposes.
Review our detailed article on the steps to take after any accident.
Q: How to determine fault in a chain reaction accident?
A: When you file a lawsuit or an insurance claim against a motorist following a chain reaction collision, you will need to prove another driver (or drivers) was liable on the basis of negligence.
Whatever causes a chain reaction collision, some of the sources that can help allocate blame include:
- Accounts by eyewitnesses
- Police reports regarding the accident, including any findings on whether any of the drivers violated a traffic law
- Vehicle damage
- Evidence such as vehicle debris and skid marks at the scene of the crash
Depending on which state you live in, more than one driver may be deemed liable for a percentage of the accident. Arizona, for example, operates follows the doctrine of pure comparative comparative negligence, meaning that drivers can be compensated based on the percentages they and the other driver were at fault. Read our article about what happens when in various states when more than one driver is at fault.