Featured News 2013 Deterimining Fault in a Multi-Vehicle Accident

Deterimining Fault in a Multi-Vehicle Accident

A multi-vehicle accident could be the fault of more than one person. If this is true, it does not entitle you to more compensation, but if one person does not have enough insurance to cover you, then another liable party could make up the difference. Perhaps you were hurt in an auto accident that was caused by two other drivers, let's say Driver A and Driver B. Both of them are liable, so you can file a claim against the two. Perhaps Driver A was the most liable, however, so his insurance gives the maximum coverage of $20,000, but you are owed $25,000. In this case, Driver B's insurance could give you the outstanding $5,000.

In this example, Driver A was responsible for the "primary" coverage, while Driver B had to give out "secondary" (or "excess") coverage. What this means is that insurance adjusters determined who was at fault, and assigned a percentage of blame to each driver. The higher the percentage of liability, the greater the responsibility to provide coverage. The person most at fault would have the primary policy. So if the primary policy was able to fully cover you, then you would never have to collect from the secondary policy. The driver with the excess policy only has to pay up when the primary coverage is insufficient.

Who has the burden of proof in multiple vehicle accidents? Whoever is filing a claim or lawsuit is the one with the responsibility to prove that their version of an accident is the right one. Lawyers will work with insurance adjusters to sort out who is liable in these complex accidents. One further example can help illustrate how this burden of proof and shared liability work.

Let's say that it is a rainy day, and Drivers A, B, C, and D are out on the road. Driver A turns around the bend to see a deer off on the side of the road; she brakes hard. This does not give Driver B enough time to brake in time, and he rear-ends Driver A. Likewise, Driver B gets rear-ended by Driver C, who then is rear-ended by Driver D. Each driver wants to file a claim, so Driver A files a claim against Driver B for rear-ending her, and Driver B files against Driver C for rear-ending him. Driver C then blames Driver D, who files a claim against Driver A for not responding well to the deer on the roadside. In this multi-vehicle crash then, each driver would have the burden of proof to establish their own claim. Each of their lawyers and each insurance company's adjusters will wrangle over what percentage of liability each party will be assigned.

Then there is the burden of proof for a counter-claim. Perhaps Driver B wants to fight against Driver's A claim. With the original claim, Driver A has the burden of proof to show that Driver B was at fault for the rear-end collision. In the counter-claim, Driver B would have the burden of proof to show that Driver A braked too fast. So whatever the type of claim, whoever files it has the burden of proof. With an insurance claim, adjusters (and attorneys) will determine who has fulfilled this burden best, that is, whose proof is the most convincing. In a lawsuit, a judge will decide who is liable.

In either scenario, complex processes are in play, and having a skilled car accident lawyer by your side can protect you from being held liable for something you did not do. With the right legal advocate on your side, you can also collect the compensation that you are owed. Do not face the aftermath of a multi-vehicle accident alone. Contact a car accident lawyer today!

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