Multiple Car Accidents - What to Expect :: Dallas Accident Lawyer
Personal Injury areas we help with are:
Auto Accident and Injury Cases, Personal Injury Cases, 18 Wheeler & Commercial Vehicle Injury Accident Cases, Motorcycle Accident and Injury Cases, Wrongful Death Cases, Pedestrian Injured by Automobile Cases, Slip and Fall & Premises Cases, Workplace & Constructions Injury Cases, Dog Bite Injury Cases, Bicyclers Hit by Automobile Cases .
Types of Coverage in Automobile Injury Cases:
Multiple vehicle accident:
The Law Office of Doug Goyen has handled multiple car accidents since 1998. There are special issues to address in multiple car accidents. There is a way to handle them. If you handle them incorrectly, the insurers for the at-fault drivers will take advantage of you and the situation and will attempt to delay or deny payment to you. If you are in the Dallas area, and you have been injured in a multi-car accident, you need a Dallas multi car accident lawyer to help with your case.
Multi car accidents present their own issues.
A) Straight Chain Reaction: A typical auto accident injury case is one where traffic stops, either at a light, on a highway, or on a roadway somewhere, and someone hits someone else in the rear and a chain reaction involving 3 or more vehicles is involved. Most people think that the insurance for the person behind them will cover the claim for the damage to their vehicle. Unfortunately, its not that simple. The law in Texas is that the person whose negligence caused the accident owes the claim. So in the most simple case, the very rear car in a 4 car chain reaction hits the car in front of it, forces that car forward, forcing the next car forward, causing a 4 car accident. The 3 cars in front were stopped and had obeyed the law, the last car was talking on a cellphone, or messing with his radio, whatever - but obviously violating the law by not paying proper attention to his driving. In this scenario, the rear vehicle pays for everyone's damage.
B) Claim of Middle Car Hitting Front Car First: Often though, the first car - the car in the very rear will claim that they saw the vehicle ahead of them hit the car in front of it first, and then because the traffic stopped so suddenly (due to a sudden collision - no braking at all, just the car comes to a complete stop due to a collision), that due to the negligence of the car in front of him, he was unable to stop and that is why he hit that vehicle in the rear. In this situation, the 2nd car (the one that the last car is claiming started it all) they might claim that this is not true, that they were stopped or stopping when the rear car pushed them into the vehicle in front. The third car (the one in front of a 3 car chain accident) claims that they weren't looking in the rear view mirror, so they aren't sure who caused the collision.
In this situation, often insurance companies and lawyers will look at the damage to the vehicles to try and decipher who is telling the truth. They will seek out witness statements, and statements from those involved to see if there are any inconsistencies. They usually ask the front vehicle how many impacts they felts, if they felt only one impact, often that means the rear vehicle hit the middle forcing the middle into the front one. If they felt 2 or more impacts, this typically is interpreted as meaning the middle car must have hit the front car first, and then the rear car hit the middle car again, forcing it back into the front car.
C) Front Vehicle at Fault: Sometimes someone involved in the accident will point the finger at the front vehicle. They will claim that they stopped for no reason in the middle of the road (no lights, no traffic, just stopped suddenly). Sometimes they will claim that the front vehicle did what they call a "swoop and squat" - moving from one lane and into another and suddenly slamming on their brakes - not giving people who they change in front of time to react and stop.
D) Phantom Vehicle: Sometimes the rear vehicle in a chain reaction will claim that another vehicle behind it hit them in the rear and forced it into the vehicles in front of it. Nobody else sees the vehicle, but the rear vehicle swears by it, and claims that it was a hit and run. In these situations the lawyers and insurance company will look for damage to the rear of the vehicle to confirm if it looks like someone hit them in the rear. You have to look and see if it is new damage (I have seen instances where someone claimed the old "phantom vehicle" and then when you look at the damage to the rear of their vehicle that they says substantiates their claim, you see that it is old and rusted, or in some other way you can tell its old damage (like the lights all busted out, but yet no glass on the roadway - the light was busted out before the accident if this is the situation).
How to handle the Claims Process:
Dealing with a claim when everyone pointing the finger at everyone else:
Typically, the first problem with a multi car / multiple vehicle accident is that everyone is pointing the finger at everyone else. Someone is not being honest, but because the front vehicle didn't see the two vehicles behind him, he isn't sure who is telling the truth. It has turned into a swearing match. The front vehicle calls both insurance companies for the two vehicles behind him and both tell him they are "investigating" the claim, but that they won't be able to authorize any payments until they verify liability. Which means they aren't paying you until the resolve the swearing match. Just a heads-up in this situation . . . swearing matches don't get resolved - if you want or need one of the other two insurance companies to pay you - you are going to need to file a lawsuit. Neither insurance is going to pay you as long as it is a swearing match. Typically, in this situation, the ONLY way to resolve this is to file the lawsuit. Depositions will have to be taken, and usually the claim is finally resolved at a mediation in this situation, because neither side wants to accept any part of the responsibility. The final argument is usually something like "OK, this is a swearing match, and we can't tell who is telling the truth. But a jury is going to be forced to put 100% on somebody if they think anyone involved was negligent. Usually, in this situation, if the jury can't tell who is telling the truth, they will put 50% on both parties. So why don't each of you pay 50% and we'll call it a day." The attorneys and adjusters hem and haw about it, puff up their chests and claim they will prove their person wasn't at fault, but usually, in this situation, they end up splitting the cost in the long run. But they don't do it until a lawsuit is filed. So don't wait in this situation, you need to hire a lawyer immediately if you have any serious injury or large medical bills that have been incurred. The sooner you file the lawsuit, the sooner it gets resolved. It will not get resolved until a lawsuit is filed - because this is the perfect excuse for the insurance company to not pay - a dispute as to who is at fault.
Who's insurance do I file through?:
You file through the person's insurance who is at fault. If the very rear vehicle is obviously the cause of the accident, that is the insurance you file through. If there is a dispute as to who is at fault, then you file through each person who may be at fault - but then go through your own insurance to get your vehicle fixed (if you have collision coverage). Get your health insurance to pay your medical bills if possible, it will be a long wait to verify liability if this is a swearing match.
What if they can't determine which one was at fault?:
If there is no way to determine who is telling the truth, or there is more than one person who is actually at fault (middle car hit you in rear, then he was hit in rear a few seconds later and forced back into you - then you will have both claiming the other is more at fault than they are and that they will only pay a small percentage of the claim, because the other driver "obviously" was more negligent than their own driver was. In this situation, hire a lawyer if you have injuries or large medical bills due to the accident, and file claims for your damage to your own vehicle through your collision coverage (if any), and for your medical bills through your health insurance.
Damages often recoverable in personal injury cases include the following:
Past and future medical bills, past and future lost earning capacity, past and future lost income, past and future physical impairment, past and future disfigurement, past and future mental anguish, past and future pain and suffering, property damage, loss of use of your property - such as rental car bills, storage, total loss of property, diminished value of property, loss of body member (arm, leg, . . .), loss of body capacity (hearing, eyesight, . . . ), loss of consortium (spouse, parental, child/filial), loss of services, emotional/mental trauma (bystander injury), prenatal injury, exemplary damages, prejudgment interest, attorney's fees, and court costs.
If you have been injured in a multi-car accident, you need to contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. You need to understand that the insurance companies are laying the groundwork to deny your claim because "the other driver" is at fault in their opinion, and they know that eventually you will be filing a lawsuit against them, so they are gathering information, getting your statement, dragging their feet in helping you, all with the intent of throwing a wrench into your lawsuit when you do file it. They are trying to lead you into torpedoing your own case. Don't be led into this trap. Contact us today so we can help resolve your case.
By Doug Goyen, firstname.lastname@example.org