Multi-vehicle accidents are common - and costly! It's important that all the facts get straightened out so that the right person is held accountable. If you have been involved in a multi-vehicle accident, here are a few things you should know.
What causes multi-car accidents?
Weather - Unfavorable weather conditions can often lead to wet, icy, and slippery roads. Smog, fog, and rain can create low visibility leading to accidents. Harmless roads and intersections can turn into a dangerous situation quickly if bad weather strikes.
Speeding - At high speeds, a small turn of the wheel can mean a multi-car accident. The higher the speed, the more broken glass, bent steel, and serious injuries.
Cell phones - This list would not be complete without mentioning cell phones. We all know that texting, checking email, taking pictures and talking on the phone while driving increases your risk for an accident. Sadly, this distraction mostly impacts young people.
Intoxicated drivers - Yes, we even mean buzzed drivers. Consumption of alcohol (or perception altering drugs) leads to side effects like altered depth perception and drowsiness which causes accidents.
Falling asleep - There's no one driving the car when someone falls asleep at the wheel. An accident can happen in that split second when a driver dozes off.
Police chases - An individual running from the police at high speeds is typically careless about not only traffic laws but other drivers on the road. The chase is likely to end with the driver wrecking his vehicle by crashing into property or another driver.
Who is at fault?
Sometimes it is clear who is at fault in a multi-vehicle accident. If a driver was intoxicated and runs into a car and that car runs into two other cars, it's pretty clear that the intoxicated driver is at fault. But it can get confusing if one of the cars in front was too close to the car in front of it, making a portion of the liability shift to the driver who was too close.
In the instance of weather, it is extremely difficult to determine fault. If drivers are out and about on a snowy day and one driver hits a patch of ice, and runs into a couple of cars or if a driver loses control due to a stroke or heart attack, proving fault is nearly impossible.
There are questions and best practices that insurance investigators will use to determine fault.
They will review police reports and speak with investigating officers. The accident investigators will want to know if the police arrested or issued a ticket for:
Intoxication (alcohol or drugs)
Open alcohol container
Possession of narcotics
Suspended license or unlicensed driver
Failure to yield right of way
Following too closely
Interview the drivers, their passengers, and other witnesses
Take photographs of the accident scene. This may include the vehicles involved, skid marks, damaged trees, guardrails, fences, etc.
Review all the driving records of people involved in the accident. They will look for prior arrests, tickets, accidents, etc.
Filing your claim
If you have been involved in a multi-vehicle accident, get help. You may want to pursue your own claim against the at-fault driver driver(s) if your insurance company is no-fault. You'll need collect evidence of fault and you can use techniques that many insurance companies use to prove the accident was another driver's fault.
If it's unclear who's at fault, you can file a claim against all the other driver's insurance. To protect themselves, they will do some investigative work to produce evidence that may prove lack of fault.
Unfortunately, many multi-car accidents end up in court. Because of complications, unclear facts, and the fact that many cars may be involved, insurance companies generally do not settle and an attorney is needed.
If you need help figuring out how to navigate the confusion of a multi-car accident, call the experts at Bart Durham.