Car accidents can result in serious injuries, as well as serious financial stress for those who were not prepared to deal with the results of a damaging collision. Victims of car accidents who believe that they were injured due to another driver’s negligence often wonder who should pay for the resulting damages. It can be difficult to determine who is responsible and how to collect compensation for damages incurred due to the crash, especially when multiple cars are involved. This reason alone makes it advisable to speak with an experienced San Jose car accident attorney if you have been involved in a car accident and have reason to believe that another party was responsible for your injuries.
Determining fault is significantly more complex in a crash involving three (or more) vehicles. You might know that you did nothing wrong, but both of the other drivers might be partially to blame. In this situation – who pays for your losses?
How to Determine Liability
Initially, insurance companies typically decide who is responsible for financially covering the accident-related damages by determining which driver or drivers were negligent. When an insurance claim is filed, this decision is often assigned to an insurance adjuster who will work to establish which party was responsible for causing the accident. In some situations, this can be relatively clear cut. But when it’s not, litigation may be necessary so that a jury can decide who was negligent.
For example, in most cases of rear-end collisions, the driver who rear-ended the car in front of them would be determined liable for the accident. Other cases are not so straightforward, and require additional investigation to determine liability.
If there were two other vehicles involved in the crash, one or both of those drivers might be at fault.
Some common causes of chain-reaction crashes involving three vehicles include:
- Following too closely
- Distracted driving
- Not using a turn signal
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Dangerous lane changes or not checking blind spots
- Road hazards
One driver might have been distracted and failed to notice traffic stopped in front of them, requiring them to slam on their brakes behind you. The driver behind them might have also been distracted, and might crash into the first car, causing that car to crash into you. In this situation, both distracted drivers might share responsibility for your damages, and those injured due to both drivers’ negligence would be entitled to pursue claims. Where this occurs, liability must be apportioned to determine how responsible each party is.
Understanding the Insurance Claims Process
The insurance claims process can quickly become complicated, and for this reason, work with a skilled car accident attorney who can work with the insurance adjuster on your behalf. Once the claim is filed, there are certain steps the assigned adjustor will take to determine liability.
These steps include:
- Reviewing the official police report – After an accident, it is strongly suggested that you call the police to report the accident. Once the officers arrive on the scene, they will assess the damage and often determine which party they believe is responsible for causing the accident. This will be written up in their official police report, and the insurance companies often rely on this document when reviewing the situation and determining liability.
- Conduct interviews – The insurance adjuster will sometimes attempt to contact and interview everyone who was in the accident so that each individual can state their side of the story. While you may feel tempted to provide your statement to the adjuster, it is best to let your attorney guide you through this step. Although telling an insurance adjuster what happened before and after the accident can seem straightforward and harmless, your attorney will know how best to convey your side to the insurance companies to protect your right to just compensation.
- Gather your medical information – If you are submitting a claim and requesting compensation because you were injured in a car accident, the insurance adjuster will contact your medical provider to learn more about the treatment you received. They will also review your medical records and history concerning the accident. Because of this, seek medical attention directly after an accident, even if you don’t think that your injuries are all that serious. If you fail to be seen by a doctor promptly after the accident, the insurance adjuster could see this as evidence that your injuries may not be as serious as you state them to be. You should never allow a responsible driver’s insurance company to obtain access to your medical records without speaking to an attorney first as doing so could severely harm your case.
- Calculating the damages of your accident – In addition to investigating which party pays for the crash, your car accident lawyer will calculate the full value of the damages incurred from the accident. Doing so will help to establish the amount of compensation to demand from the liable party. One of the benefits of working with an experienced car accident attorney is their assistance in calculating the damages in your case, including both past and future damages.
- Determining payment – Once the responsible parties’ insurance adjusters have finished reviewing the claim, if they find fault, they will negotiate with you or your attorney in an attempt to settle the claim. After a three-car accident, you might receive two different checks that, when added together, cover your losses.
If you were in a car accident and are unsure who should pay for the damages, don’t worry. This is a common question that skilled car accident lawyers handle frequently. Determining who is responsible for financially covering the damages incurred in an accident can be a complicated process, so speak with an experienced attorney who understands how to manage car accident claims.
You want an attorney dedicated to helping clients receive the just compensation that they deserve, whether or not there were one or more liable parties. Contact the right attorney who will understand that the expense of medical bills, physical injuries, car repairs, and lost wages due to time off work can quickly add to the stress of an already difficult situation. You want to ensure that you receive full compensation from all parties involved.