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Hurt in a multi-car accident? Which driver is liable?

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2020 | Firm News |

If you get rear-ended at a red light or T-boned in an intersection, it’s pretty easy to assign responsibility for the crash to the motorist who hit you. But when you get injured in a multi-car pile-up on the interstate, it can be much more challenging to determine which drivers may bear some or all of the liability for the crash.

Because these type of accidents can often produce catastrophic injuries for drivers and their passengers, it’s important to take the necessary steps to determine who will have to pay for the medical bills and/or funeral expenses of those injured or killed.

Ohio and comparative negligence laws

Here in Ohio, motorists involved in collisions are subject to the state’s comparative negligence laws. What that means for injured drivers is that if they are determined to be 50% or less responsible for the accident, they still may seek compensation for their injuries.

However, any damage awards will subsequently be reduced by the percentage of their own negligence. Here’s how it works:

A driver with $10,000 worth of damage was found to be 20% liable for the accident. Therefore, their award or judgment would only be $8,000, which is reflective of the 20% liability they were assessed.

Bring in the experts

Police agencies, insurance companies and both plaintiff and defense attorneys often turn to accident reconstruction experts to help them determine the series of events and which motorists bear liability for the multi-car collisions.

These reconstruction professionals often conclude that there were multiple drivers sharing responsibility for the pile-ups.

Getting “sandwiched” in a wreck

In a three-car line of vehicles, the occupants of car “A” may indicate that there was only a single bump. That would indicate that driver “C” was at fault, rear-ending car “B” and propelling it into car “A.”

A two-impact accident could mean that the driver in the middle car first rear-ended the first car, and then was subsequently stuck from behind from the third vehicle. In those circumstances, the second and third cars’ drivers could be responsible for the damages to the first driver. But the third car’s driver may also bear liability to the driver of the middle car.

Personal injury attorneys experienced at assigning liability

Complex accidents are best sorted out by those with experience in assigning liability to the correct parties. If you were injured in a multi-car accident, you may be able to collect from more than one driver’s insurance company.

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