Liability in three-car crashes seems that it would be a rare matter. Yet three-car crashes are far more common than many people think. Three-car crashes are typically more serious and stressful than many people think. By definition, three-car crashes increase the number of people involved, the damages to involved vehicles, and the number and severity of injuries sustained. Sorting out liability issues in these crashes is also more complicated than two-vehicle auto accidents.
We have all seen chain-reaction crashes (at least on TV). We know how easily cars pile up when an icy road causes a driver to lose control of a vehicle. Many of us have also seen the kind of crash that can occur when a driver swerves to avoid hitting an animal. It takes little imagination to understand crashes of this kind. When traveling at a high rate of speed it becomes more difficult to stop in time to prevent a highway crash. When we see the end result of a crash, we see vehicle rollovers, stacked cars, and a range of damages that seem incomprehensible. How do we look at the aftermath and ascertain how the accident occurred and which driver was at fault? Many other factors can enter into the cause of the accident: speeding, drunk driving, distracted driving, visibility issues, weather, and more.
Multiple Drivers at Fault
Like other accidents, a driver’s legal liability is determined by negligence. At some point, someone must determine who was negligent and who was not. In some cases, more than one driver is found to have been negligent and at fault in the accident.
Common contributing factors in three-car crashes:
- One driver runs a red light. Another driver is speeding and will not have time to stop.
- Drinking and drug use slow a driver’s reaction time. This driver may not be able to react in time to avoid a crash or to minimize the force of the collision.
- Distracted driving could prevent a driver from avoiding another crash.
- Inexperienced drivers sometimes panic and freeze, making no effort to avoid the accident.
- When drivers habitually roll through intersections. The momentum makes it more difficult to stop if struck from behind by another vehicle.
All accidents cases follow a basic pattern:
- A crash occurs, police create an accident report. Insurance companies become involved.
- Many drivers engage the services of a personal injury attorney to represent them and protect their interests.
- The attorneys may arrange for the case to be negotiated or to proceed with mediation or arbitration or to go to trial.
- By the time the process is completed a determination of fault has been made and it is clear who must pay for the damages.
Your Role in Making the Decision
You will not be able to decide liability for the crash. Nor will you decide who pays damages to whom. Your role can be summed up in what you say and what you don’t say, as well as to whom you speak.
Say as little as possible at the crash scene, and be very careful what you say.
- Don’t admit fault for the crash. Don’t make a judgment about fault.
- Don’t lose your temper. You may appear to be trying to hide your fault and you might say something you should not say.
- Don’t apologize to anyone for anything. Don’t admit to anything that could have contributed to the crash.
- When speaking with police, answer questions with facts only – no guesses, no speculation, no extra information.
While at the crash site, if you are able (uninjured) take photos and gather as much information as possible from bystanders and witnesses.
Report the crash to your insurance company. Relate all of the facts. If you believe you are not at fault, make that clear to the insurance company. Share any witness information you gathered at the crash site with them. Share all photos of the crash site with them.
Call Altizer Law, P.C.
If you have been injured in the three-car crash, call Altizer Law immediately. You will want the guidance of an experienced auto accident and personal injury attorney. If you are not injured, call us later that day or the next day. As we have outlined, three-car crashes are complex and complicated. We will do everything possible to protect your legal rights. We will listen to your account of the accident and explain your legal options in an initial consultation. Bettina Altizer and her expert team have been trusted by hundreds of people injured in Virginia auto accidents for more than 30 years. They understand the guidance and protection you may need. They also understand that when you are recovering from an injury, legal action is about the money.