In most car accident situations, the legal ramifications in terms of fault and damages are fairly simple. One of the two drivers is usually at fault, and may bear liability to the other in terms of physical or emotional damages.
At the offices of William Rawlings & Associates, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are here to help with these kinds of basic car accidents, but also with a more complex type: The multi-car accident. Liability may not be so simple in these cases, and determining responsibility may take a bit more work. In this two-part blog, we’ll go over some of the basics to consider if you’ve been involved in a multi-car accident.
More Than One At Fault
For starters, it’s important to note that there’s no set method for listing fault in these kinds of accidents. In some cases a single driver will have 100 percent of the fault placed on him or her, while in others multiple drivers may have some responsibility.
As an example, let’s say a driver rear-ends another, pushing the front car into yet another vehicle that’s in front of it. In this case, the driver of the first vehicle to make contact will be responsible for damages to both other vehicles, as they caused the damage. In other situations, though, multiple drivers can contribute to an accident taking place – think of a driver who goes through a red light at far too high a speed, but is then hit by someone who ran the opposing red light at the same intersection in an accident that also impacts a third vehicle. In this case, both the speeder and the driver who ran the red light could be at some degree of fault.
When a multi-car accident takes place in Utah, the first consideration for all drivers involved, even those who may not have been at fault, is their insurance. Utah is a no-fault auto insurance state, meaning that you’ll first use your PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance to pay for basic medical expenses or lost work time. Once this policy limit has been reached, which usually happens fairly quickly, drivers are able to use fault and liability to request damages from others involved in the accident.
Some other areas that may play a role in liability for multi-car accidents:
- Driver sobriety: If an at-fault driver was drinking before the accident, it’s possible the local bar or restaurant that served them could be partially liable. This is particularly true if the establishment knew they were leaving behind the wheel of a car.
- Type of vehicle: If a vehicle involved in the accident was commercial or the driver was on the clock for work purposes while driving, the company that employs the driver may have some liability as well.
- Geographic features: In some cases, poor visibility or other driving conditions may have helped cause the accident. In this case, the city itself may bear some liability.
For more on determining liability in multi-car accidents, or to learn about any of our auto accident attorney services, speak to the pros at the offices of William Rawlings & Associates today.