Who is At Fault in a Multi-Car Accident?
Determining fault in a two-car accident can be complicated enough, with conflicting stories and evidence from multiple sources. When you have accidents with more than two cars, though, the process becomes even more complex. Figuring out who is at fault and how much fault each individual has is crucial, since you cannot recover compensation until you know who is liable for your injuries.
If you’ve been injured in a multi-car accident, learn more about your options now. Call Pack Law Group at 540-586-7225.
First, let’s dispel one common myth that comes up in these discussions. One commonly repeated belief is that the last car in a pileup is automatically at fault for the damage suffered by the other drivers and vehicles in the accident. This is not always true. Every accident has different circumstances and factors, so there’s rarely a one-size-fits-all answer.
Figuring Out Liability
Consider a rear-end pileup, which is one of the most common types of multi-car accidents. If Car A stops at a stoplight and Car B does not notice that they’ve stopped until too late, they strike Car A. However, Car C (which is behind Car B) was following too closely and strikes Car B, causing damage to both Car B and Car A. Car D strikes Car C, causing further damage to all three cars.
Consider another type of rear-end pileup. Cars A, B, and C are stopped at a stoplight, waiting patiently. Car D comes up too fast, notices the stopped cars too late, and slams into Car C. This pushes Car C into Car B and pushes Car B into Car A.
In the first case, liability is quite complicated. Car B is responsible for most of the damage suffered by Car A and its occupants. However, Car C was also negligent, and they are liable or some of the damage suffered by Car B and a small amount of the damage caused to Car A. Car D holds some liability for the damage to all of the involved vehicles.
In the second case, Car D is likely responsible for all of the damage caused to all of the vehicles. This is the typical case people think of when they cite the myth discussed above. However, even this is not cut-and-dry. There may be liability among some of the stopped cars as well. If they did not leave enough space between themselves and the vehicle in front of them, some of the liability may fall to them.
How Virginia’s Contributory Negligence Statute Affects These Situations
Some states allow you to receive compensation proportionate to the amount of liability you have. In an accident that caused you $100,000 of damage where you were found 10% at fault, you would theoretically receive $90,000.
However, Virginia has a contributory negligence statute. This means that, if your case goes to court and you are found to have any liability for the accident, you cannot receive any compensation for the accident. Obviously, this complicates matters quite a bit. Even if you did almost nothing wrong, you could end up with nothing if your case goes to court.
Luckily, most personal injury cases do not go to court. The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled before a lawsuit is even filed. This is true even with multi-car accidents. Yes, insurance companies do not want to end up paying more than they need to because of their client’s actions; but they also don’t want to end up in court for months over a multi-car accident. This situation would cost all involved parties tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, which no insurance company wants to deal with.
To protect your best interests in this case, you need a personal injury lawyer with previous experience in multi-car accidents. There will be a lot of finger-pointing in these types of cases, so you must choose an attorney who can stand their ground.
Let Pack Law Group Help
At Pack Law Group, we represent clients aggressively throughout the entire personal injury claim process. Our goal is to recover as much compensation as possible for you. To discuss your next steps and find out how we can help you, call us at 540-586-7225 or get in touch online.