When a multiple-vehicle accident occurs, determining who was at fault can be very complicated. If serious injury or death occurs, an experienced New Jersey car accident lawyer such as one from Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., should be consulted for advice on gathering the evidence needed to prove fault and recover compensation.
Multi-vehicle accidents can also raise issues of what party or parties should be liable for paying a personal injury claim. For instance, if the drivers of two separate cars were both at fault for causing an accident and injuring a third driver, who should compensate the third driver?
New Jersey uses special rules called “modified joint and several liability.” Under these rules, if a person is less than 60 percent responsible for causing an accident, he is responsible for paying only for the percentage of damages equal to his level of fault. If he is more than 60 percent responsible, he can be held liable for the entirety of the car accident damages (or held jointly and severally responsible for damages).
If you or a loved one has been involved in a multiple-vehicle crash, call Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., today at 1-800-LAW-2000 or complete our online form. We can schedule a free and confidential consultation.
Types of Multiple-Vehicle Car Accidents
Multiple-vehicle car crashes commonly result from a chain reaction. For instance:
- A driver may be rear-ended and pushed forward, crashing into the car in front.
- When two or more cars collide and are stopped as a result, additional cars may hit these crashed vehicles.
- A driver may be pushed into another lane as a result of impact from a collision, colliding with the vehicle in the other lane.
These are just a few examples of chain reactions that can result in multi-vehicle crashes. Often, one driver doing something careless behind the wheel can cause several others to become involved in a wreck, injuring all involved.
Causes of Multiple-Vehicle Crashes
Multiple-vehicle crashes can occur any time there are multiple vehicles on the road. However, certain factors are likely to increase the risk of a multiple-vehicle crash occurring. Some examples of situations where a pile-up is most likely to occur include:
- Adverse weather conditions – Icy roads and poor visibility can increase the risk of multi-car pileups because accidents are more likely and because other drivers may not see or be able to react quickly when they come upon an accident.
- Speeding – When an accident happens on the highway, it is more likely to involve multiple cars since the vehicles surrounding the accident are often traveling too quickly or speeding, and they can’t stop on time to avoid the wreck.
- Traveling too close together – Again, when vehicles are close to each other, it can be very challenging to stop when something goes wrong in a lead vehicle.
- Nowhere for a vehicle to go – This explains why highway accidents are so often multi-car pileups. If an accident happens, other surrounding drivers can’t just veer out of the way. When or if they slam on the brakes or swerve to avoid a crash, this can set off a devastating chain reaction.
- Rubbernecking – This is a term that describes when multiple drivers stop to look at an accident scene. They can all become distracted and more likely to become involved in a crash.
- Construction zone speeding – Generally speaking, construction zones are inherently dangerous to both drivers and innocent construction workers.
In some of these situations, the multi-vehicle crash is a simple and unavoidable accident. In other cases, however, the carelessness of one or more drivers is responsible for setting off the chain reaction that leads to the multi-vehicle crash.
Litigation of Multi-Vehicle Accident Cases
Because often more than one person’s negligence may have contributed to the cause of the collision, it generally requires a skilled lawyer to successfully resolve a multi-vehicle accident case. Cases often cannot settle without filing a lawsuit and conducting discovery that can include depositions of the driver and witnesses.
Factors that can complicate or delay the settlement of a multi-car accident case are:
- More than one at-fault driver
- More than one injured party
- Insufficient insurance to pay all claims
- Prosecutor’s investigation of deaths or serious injuries claimed
- Cross-claims of negligence between drivers
These factors can delay a claim by years unless a lawsuit is timely filed. Often, lawsuits need to be delayed because the accident victim is still actively under the care of a doctor. Additionally, many insurance companies deny fair and timely compensation to accident victims because of their business practices of delay, deny and defend.
One technique that may be helpful in moving a multi-car accident forward is known as a bifurcated trial. This means that a person’s claim will be subject to a two-part trial.
The first part involves the cause of the accident without discussing injuries. After heavy testimony and examination of photos of the accident scene and vehicle damage, the jury will deliberate only on the issue of liability, or the accident cause.
After that phase, cases often settle or continue to medical testimony to consider how much money to award an injured plaintiff.
Call Our New Jersey Multiple-Vehicle Crash Lawyers Today
Since 1981, the lawyers and staff of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., have provided legal assistance to car accident victims and their families across New Jersey and New York. We can help you to obtain compensation if you were injured or lost a loved one in a multiple-vehicle crash.
Free and confidential initial consultations are readily available by phone or by Skype, FaceTime or GoToMeeting. We can also visit you at your home or in the hospital.
To learn more, call us today at 1-800-LAW-2000 or take a moment to fill out our online form. You will not pay attorney fees unless we secure a recovery in your case.