Who Is at Fault in a Multi-Car Accident?
If you get injured in a crash involving multiple vehicles and drivers, liability may be confusing. Rather than having only one driver to go up against, you will need to examine all the drivers involved to determine fault. More than one driver – including you – could share liability for the wreck. Find out how the courts determine fault in a multi-car accident to pursue compensation if this happens to you.
Is Nebraska a Fault or No-Fault State?
First, before you can determine fault, understand your state’s fault law. If you live in a no-fault state, determining fault for a multi-car accident will not be a requirement to recover. You will receive benefits from your own auto insurance provider using personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, even if you were not to blame for the car accident. The only time you would need to determine fault in a no-fault state is if you have serious injuries.
Nebraska is a traditional fault-based state. The party at fault for causing the wreck is responsible for paying for accident injuries, vehicle repairs, lost income and other damages in Nebraska. Every driver in the state must meet at least the minimum insurance requirements so they can pay for these expenses. As the injured victim of a multi-car accident in Nebraska, you will need to determine fault before you can recover financial compensation.
Which Driver Caused the Initial Collision?
One of the most common types of multi-car accidents is a chain reaction rear-end accident. In this accident, Driver A rear-ends Driver B, who rear-ends Driver C and so on in a line of vehicles. In a rear-end crash involving multiple cars, fault will generally go to the vehicle in back. However, investigators will still carefully research fault in case a different driver is partially to blame.
If, for example, Driver B did not have working brake lights, he or she could be at fault for the initial rear-end collision instead of Driver A. It is important to always call the police or a car accident injury lawyer to investigate a multi-car rear-end collision. Otherwise, you may assume the rear driver is to blame when the correct liable party is actually another driver in the chain.
Even if a multi-car accident was not a chain of rear-end collisions, it is still important to hire an investigator. Fault can be difficult to determine in any pileup accident. An investigator will look at the location of the crash, any driver broke a law, the road conditions at the time of the accident, eyewitness statements, photographs and other factors to identify the liable party in a multi-car accident.
How Might the Contributory Negligence Defense Affect Your Claim?
Do not be surprised if someone else involved in your multi-car accident believes you caused the crash. This is a common issue that arises in these types of claims. It is important to work with an attorney to combat this defense if someone uses it against you. In Nebraska, the contributory negligence defense (Nebraska Revised Statute 25-21,185.09) can reduce your compensatory award proportionately to the amount you are at fault for the accident.
If you were 30% responsible for causing a multi-car accident because you were texting and driving, for example, you would lose 30% of your financial recovery. If your share of fault is greater or equal to the defendant’s share, however, you will not recover any compensation. This is Nebraska’s 50% rule.
It can be important to have an attorney represent you during a multi-car accident claim – especially if someone is alleging your fault. A lawyer can protect your ability to recover by determining who is liable for the wreck, finding proof of fault and negotiating for maximum compensation on your behalf. Call (402) 558-4900 today to speak to a car accident lawyer at Matthew G. Miller.