Although car accidents between two drivers are often very simple cases, a multi-car accident is much more complex. Each driver has a car insurance company that would like to avoid paying compensation for property damage and personal injuries. There may be several accident victims with medical bills. Who has to pay when more than two vehicles get into a car accident? A Texas car accident attorney can help you seek a fair settlement and get the compensation you deserve.
Determining liability when multiple cars are involved can be a challenge. However, the same Texas car accident laws apply to multi-car accidents. Consider how these laws work and what you can do to seek fair compensation for your damages.
Texas is an at-fault state, which means that whenever there is a car accident, one party must be the “at-fault party.” The driver found to be at fault will be responsible for the majority of the damages sustained in the car accident. Other states apply a “no-fault” rule to car accidents. In those states, it doesn’t matter who was at fault; each party will be responsible for their own damages.
Because Texas does not use this latter method, if you were unexpectedly hit by another driver, you may pursue compensation for your damages. First, you can file a claim with your insurance company. They will likely try to get the insurance company of the driver at fault to pay for your property damage and personal injuries. In accidents involving multiple cars, however, there may not be a clear one person at fault.
In a car accident claim stemming from a multi-vehicle collision, the court must determine if anyone is primarily at fault for the car accident. To do this, they will rely on the testimony of the police officer that responded to the accident scene. In addition, each individual driver may gather evidence and present their case with the help of a car accident lawyer. This evidence may include security camera footage, videos filmed by witnesses, dashcam footage, or witness testimony.
The court may also evaluate vehicle damage, personal injury records, including medical bills, and the driving history of the drivers involved. After reviewing all of the information presented in the case, the judge will decide which driver contributed the most to the crash. In some instances, there may be one clear driver at fault. However, what happens in a multi-car accident where multiple drivers contributed to causing the car accident?
Sometimes more than one driver bears the blame for a car accident. For instance, imagine that your vehicle was rear-ended. Normally, the rear car is at fault in these situations. Imagine, though, that the car that rear-ended you had to swerve away from a vehicle that pulled out into the street without looking for oncoming traffic. The car accident occurred because of one driver’s negligence, but the actual damage to your car stems from another vehicle’s reaction.
In situations like these, fault can be assessed collectively over the entire claim, or it can be divided into each stage of the collision. For example, the car that pulled out unexpectedly could be deemed primarily at fault for the entire series of events. However, another possibility is to assign the car that rear-ended yours more fault for your damages but still assess fault to the car that pulled out, making both parties responsible for damages.
When multiple vehicles cause an accident, and both are assigned some degree of fault for the collision, the modified comparative fault rule applies. This rule states that whoever is mostly at fault must pay for all damages cited in the entire claim. Although the other driver at fault may be able to receive some compensation, the amount they receive is automatically reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to them in the accident. Consider a hypothetical scenario.
Suppose a car driving erratically crashes with another vehicle in the next lane. A third driver is distracted and doesn’t stop in time, crashing into both cars. The car that started the accident would receive the majority of the fault, perhaps 70%. The third receives 30% for their distracted driving. The second car can recover all its damages, while the third can only recover 70% of the total. The first car is held responsible entirely.
Multi-car accidents typically take longer to resolve because there are multiple insurance companies involved, and none of them ever want to pay for the damages of other drivers. Each driver will file a claim with their insurance company, and each company will review the events. Every insurance policy has a liability and damage limit, so the insurance company will estimate the total damages and determine how much to pay out.
When you are not mostly at fault, your insurance company will try to get the other drivers’ insurance companies to pay for the entire car accident. If you were assessed some fault, these other companies would aim to reduce your portion of the payout according to the fault you were assigned. A car accident attorney can help you dictate the pace of events and ensure you get fair compensation for your injuries.
A car accident involving multiple vehicles can lead to long, drawn-out insurance disputes. As each insurance carrier fights to pay out as little as possible, you may be stuck in the middle waiting for compensation. Meanwhile, you may find the cost of your personal injury increasing as you lose wages during recovery and face large medical expenses. An experienced personal injury attorney with experience in car accidents can help you by pushing the case forward.
To pursue your personal injury claim legally, you’ll want the help of a legal professional. Look for law offices that offer a free consultation with a personal injury attorney. Once you schedule your consultation with the law firm, you’ll need to explain the details of the accident. If multiple people were involved, bring any identifying information such as their drivers license number or license plate numbers. Your lawyer will determine which of the multiple parties to file a lawsuit against.
In a multi-vehicle accident where there are two cars clearly at fault, your lawyer may suggest filing a separate suit for each one. In most cases, one vehicle is most at fault for the accident, and that driver will be named. Once the lawsuit is filed, the other driver will be notified, and they will likely reach out to their insurance provider to seek liability coverage.
By filing a lawsuit, you increase your chances of receiving compensation for your vehicle and any other damages you’ve incurred. When left to their own devices, insurance providers will always try to pay out as little as possible. When a lawyer enters the picture, insurers lose control of the narrative and have to adhere to the law. Your lawyer will present your case and engage in discovery with the multiple parties involved.
Discovery is where your evidence plays a major role in your compensation. When you can show that another vehicle was responsible for the accident, the owner of the vehicle is more likely to be held liable. Their insurance provider is more likely to offer a better settlement in your favor to avoid going to court.
The first settlement offer is usually the bare minimum needed to cover your damages, although it may still fall short of covering you fully if there are three or more vehicles involved and fault was split with another party. Your lawyer will aim to negotiate a better settlement for you. Bear in mind that each round of negotiations adds time to the whole process. If you are satisfied with an offer, accept it to receive compensation right away.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident with multiple vehicles, don’t assume that you cannot receive compensation. Cases are always more nuanced than they appear. Contact Brian C. Gutierrez law firm by calling 979-271-5338 and ask for a free consultation.
If you have been injured in a car accident in College Station, Bryan, Madisonville, Huntsville, Buffalo, Caldwell, Navasota, Buffalo, Rockdale, Hempstead, or Brenham, it is important to speak with a lawyer who can help you understand your rights and guide you through the claims process. At the Law Office of Brian C. Gutierrez, Attorney Brian Gutierrez is committed to providing personalized legal services for victims of car accidents. When you work with our firm, you are working directly with Attorney Gutierrez. Our clients are like family—contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about the services we offer.
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