How is Fault Determined in a Multi-Vehicle Accident?
Accidents that involve more than two cars can often be exponentially more disorienting and dangerous. The presence of so many parties can also make any insurance or legal claims more complicated, as it can be hard to establish who was at fault as well as the extent of their negligence.
Multi-Vehicle Accidents and Michigan No-Fault
Regardless of who caused the accident, all parties should submit a claim to their own auto-insurer. Michigan No-Fault insurance, which every Michigan driver is required to have, includes Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Liability Insurance. This coverage can help you pay for medical bills, lost wages, and pay damages if another driver sues you. No-Fault claims typically must be made within one year of the accident, though some insurance companies may allow for less time in certain rare circumstances.
While the benefits provided by No-Fault insurance may be sufficient to cover a victim’s expenses in some circumstances, more serious car accidents—which multi-vehicle accidents often are—may lead to worse injuries and higher medical bills. So long as the injured party was less than 50% at-fault for the accident, they may be able to sue the at-fault party for the following damages:
- Pain and suffering: These damages are meant to compensate those who have suffered a “serious impairment of a bodily function” for their mental and physical anguish.
- Lost wages: While No-Fault insurance provides coverage of lost wages at 85% for up to 3 years, you can sue for further damages in a third-party lawsuit against a negligent driver.
- Excess medical bills: If your medical costs exceed the coverage provided by auto-insurance, you can file a lawsuit against the negligent driver for future and excess medical expenses.
- Vehicle repair costs: Michigan Mini Tort provisions allow drivers to sue the at-fault party for up to $3,000 in vehicle repair costs that are not covered by insurance after an accident.
- Other economic loss: You may be able to sue for other expenses not covered by your No-Fault provider that are a result of the accident.
Liability in a Multi-vehicle Accident
In order to prove liability for an accident, the at-fault party must have demonstrated to have violated their duty of care to their fellow motorists. Negligent behavior can take many forms, including the following:
- Distracted driving: Operating a vehicle while visually, manually, or cognitively distracted is very dangerous and can lead to an accident. Distractions can be anything from a cellphone to a buzzing insect.
- Speeding: Speed limits exist for a reason and fast-moving vehicles have the potential to do more damage than their law-abiding peers.
- Driving while under the influence: Drunk driving or driving while under the influence of another drug is incredibly dangerous. Substances can influence a driver’s reflexes, focus, and decision making.
- Driving while fatigued: Whether this is driving for too long on a road trip or simply not getting enough sleep, driving while drowsy can lead to terrible accidents and puts drivers at risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
- Violating traffic laws: Like speed limits, other traffic laws exist to keep us safe. Failing to stop, yield, or change your speed at the appropriate time is dangerous. Driving legally and predictably is the best way to stay safe on the road.
- Failing to maintain their vehicle: It is every driver’s duty to make sure that their vehicle is safe to operate before they take it out on the road. Taking proper care of your vehicle can prevent dangerous system failures while on the road.
Negligent drivers may also be only partially at fault for the accident. Under Michigan’s comparative negligence law any damages paid to an injured party that are won from a lawsuit may be reduced in proportion to their own negligence. For instance, if a claimant is found to be 25% at fault for their injuries, they will only receive 75% of the payment.
What Types of Evidence Can be Used to Determine Liability?
While it may be obvious who caused the accident in some multi-vehicle crashes, some cases are more difficult. The aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming, but it is important to get the contact information of as many witnesses as possible after a crash happens. Sources that corroborate each other’s stories are much more trustworthy than a single person would be. Witnesses also lack a stake in the outcome of the accident unlike drivers who have a vested interest in dodging blame.
Photos and videos may also be used to help prove liability. If there is a surveillance camera nearby, its footage may be used.
Involving Law Enforcement
While calling 911 after an accident may feel unnecessary, it is often wise to do so anyway. In addition to providing emergency services, law enforcement officers will make a police report. Multi-vehicle accidents are complicated and police reports can help prove negligence to both your insurance company and a potential jury.
What Can a Lawyer do To Help?
A lawyer can help you understand your rights after a multi-vehicle car accident in addition to negotiating with your car insurance company and/or the negligent driver (and their insurance company) on your behalf. They can also provide representation if your case goes to court.
Insurance companies do not want to pay you anything beyond the bare minimum and they will employ every trick that they know to protect their own interests. Experienced lawyers like those at the Mike Morse Law Firm understand how these businesses operate and will fight to make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
For more information on how a car accident attorney can help you, check out this article.
Injured in a Multi-Vehicle Accident? We Can Help.
At the Mike Morse Law Firm, we have decades of experience caring for our clients and fighting big insurance companies. Multi-vehicle accidents are often emotionally and physically painful and mounting medical bills only amplify your stress. Our expert personal injury attorneys work hard to make sure that our clients get the compensation they deserve to help get their lives back on track. If you or a loved one was injured in a multi-vehicle accident, call us today at 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946) or contact us through our website to set up a free consultation.