Car accidents often involve more than one vehicle, and in such cases, it is often difficult to determine who is at fault or liable for the collision. One of the most common multiple vehicle accidents is where one car rear-ends another car and a “domino effect” sets off a chain reaction where the car that is hit collides with the car in front of it and so forth.
In that situation, it is logical to assume that the last car in the line caused the collision because that vehicle was following too closely to stop in time to avoid the accident. However, automobile insurance companies, in an attempt to not pay claims, often attempt to pin liability on one or all of the other vehicles involved, stating that one of the other cars or all of the other cars were, in theory, following too closely, and also liable for the collision. Or, if there are two impacts, there could be an argument over which impact caused the claimant’s injuries.
Or, sometimes, the circumstances do actually make liability unclear. For example, let’s say there is a 3-car rear-end collision. Vehicle 1 is traveling in the front, vehicle 2 is traveling in the middle, and vehicle 3 is the last car traveling in the line. Let’s say vehicle 1 is driving a car that is disabled and is driving below the minimum speed limit and then suddenly stops working. Vehicle 2 stops in a timely fashion to avoid hitting vehicle 1, but vehicle 3 does not stop in time and pushes vehicle 2 into vehicle 1.
It seems pretty obvious that vehicle 2 is not at fault, so that is going to be our claimant for personal injuries in this example. The person in vehicle 2 or his/her injury attorney will likely put both vehicle 1 and vehicle 3’s insurance companies on notice and set up claims. However, it would not be surprising if the automobile insurers for vehicles 1 and 3 engaged in a liability dispute.
The insurance company for vehicle 1 would argue that vehicle 3 was following too closely while the insurance company for vehicle 3 would argue that there was a “sudden emergency” and that vehicle 1 was negligently driving a disabled vehicle too slowly for conditions. Such a dispute often makes it difficult for claimants such as the driver of vehicle 2 to make claims, especially if the injuries are relatively small.
Insurance companies know that such disputes make it difficult for injured parties to make claims because if the claims cannot be resolved pre-suit, then the claimant has to incur the expenses of filing a lawsuit and suing both drivers 1 and 3, even if the claimant has a smaller soft tissue injury. Of course, if the driver of vehicle 2 suffered from catastrophic injuries, then it would make economical sense to bring the lawsuit regardless of which insurance company admitted or denied liability.
Of course, there are times when the two insurance companies of the at-fault drivers accept 50-50 responsibility, and the claimant can either settle the claims for reasonable amounts pre-suit.
At any rate, collisions involving multiple vehicles can be complicated in many respects, whether it be finding available insurance coverage or determining liability. Retaining the services of a qualified injury attorney is important when dealing with accidents involving multiple cars and multiple insurance companies. For a consultation with a car accident attorney, call The Davis Injury Firm at (404) 647-0722.