When you’re in a car accident, your first thought usually involves any injuries you or your loved ones sustained in the crash. The second, often as you’re standing on the edge of the road surveying the damage and waiting for the authorities, is twofold – who is at fault, and who is going to pay for all this?
Multi-car crashes are particularly complicated. In situations where multiple drivers are involved, all may share varying degrees of fault; any passengers and their injuries add another layer of complexity. How do we determine who is at fault, and who is liable for injuries and damages?
Who Is Responsible?
One driver is not always the cause of multi-car crashes. For this reason, Florida uses the pure comparative negligence rule. If multiple vehicles are involved in an accident, it must be determined who was at fault for the initial vehicle strike, but it must also be determined if the other drivers contributed in any way to the accident – perhaps by following too closely, failing to signal or otherwise exacerbating the circumstances of the accident.
If driver A rear-ended another vehicle, causing a three-car pileup and injury to drivers B and C, driver A is responsible for all injuries. If driver B was following driver C too closely, however, and rear-ends driver C as a result, he may be partially responsible for driver C’s injuries. Of course, discrepancies are often involved in such cases – particularly in the emotional moments immediately following an accident – and varying degrees of responsibility are not always settled easily between insurance companies.
Who Is Liable?
Since Florida is a no-fault insurance state, each driver turns to their own insurance’s personal injury protection (PIP) to cover any injury to themselves, while the property damage liability portion of the responsible driver or drivers’ insurance would be liable to cover the auto damages. However, if the injuries sustained exceed PIP – typically $10,000 – the at-fault driver is liable for the remainder. Often, insurance companies will not settle these claims, leaving the involved parties to seek legal representation to recover the rest.
How Will I Be Compensated?
A jury will determine which parties were at fault, and assign liability based on the percentage they believe each was responsible for the accident. The responsible driver or drivers must then pay for any medical care you received beyond your PIP of $10,000. In addition, you may also receive compensation for missed time at work, pain and suffering, or any funeral or burial costs incurred as a result of the accident.
Were you involved in a multi-car accident where you sustained injuries? Do not let insurance companies settle for an amount that doesn’t begin to cover the losses you’ve suffered. We at Harrell & Harrell, P.A. are Jacksonville’s premier accident injury lawyers and offer free consultations to help you determine your next steps. Contact us online or call us at 904-251-1111 or 800-251-1111 today.