How is Liability Determined in a Multi-Vehicle Accident?

Most car accidents involve one or two vehicles. Single-vehicle accidents occur when a car crashes into an object or rolls over for some reason. When it comes to two-vehicle accidents, establishing liability is typically easy. This is because the crash usually happens because of the negligence of a given party. Once liability is determined, recovering compensatory damages is relatively straightforward. An Irvine car crash attorney can help you file a claim and recoup these damages.

Things are different in a multi-vehicle accident. This is because more than two vehicles are involved in such a crash. Multi-vehicle accidents on highways can involve as many as 10 or even more vehicles. Crashes of this type often occur in areas with traffic congestion, although they can occur virtually anywhere.

A major contributing factor in such accidents is speed. When the first one or two vehicles suffer a crash, others driving close by are unable to avoid the accident vehicles due to their speed. This turns a single-vehicle or two-vehicle crash into a multi-vehicle accident.

Liability in a Multi-Vehicle Accident

Determining liability in a multi-vehicle accident is complicated. This is because more than one driver may be at fault for causing the crash. When this is the case, fault is distributed among all the at-fault parties.

A multi-vehicle crash involves a large body of evidence. This includes videos and photos from the crash scene, the police report about the crash, vehicular damage for all the vehicles involved, eyewitness statements, accident reconstruction reports, CCTV footage from the scene, and more.

It takes longer to go through this body of evidence and establish liability. You also have to deal with the insurers of several potentially at-fault parties. In addition, the doctrine of joint and several liability often becomes involved in a multi-vehicle crash.

Joint and Several Liability

Joint and several liability is a legal doctrine that applies when two or more parties cause a personal injury incident, such as a crash. The doctrine allows you to recover full compensation from any of the at-fault parties as a victim in a multi-vehicle accident. This is possible even when two or more parties share the fault. For instance, suppose party A is found to be 10% at fault in a multi-vehicle crash. Party B is assigned 40% of the fault whereas party C is determined to be 50% at fault.

Typically, you will have to file separate claims with each party to recover compensation for your crash-related losses. This can significantly delay a payout for your injuries, lost wages, and other losses.

The joint and several liability doctrine effectively solves this problem. Under this doctrine, you can file a claim to recoup full damages from any of the at-fault parties. This means your claim can be filed against party A, party B, or party C.

If liability is clearly established, the party nominated in the claim will be obligated to pay 100% of your damages. The nominated party can then go after the other at-fault parties and recover payment from them in proportion to their degree of fault.

As a multi-vehicle crash victim, this lets you receive compensatory damages at the earliest. However, invoking joint and several liability in a multi-vehicle crash can complicate things. You will need the expert advice and guidance of a personal injury lawyer to file a claim under joint and several liability.

Non-Economic Damages in a Multi-Vehicle Accident

California laws allow you to recover the full amount of economic damages by holding at-fault parties jointly and severally liable. However, multiple at-fault parties can’t be held joint and severally liable for non-economic damages.

In other words, you will have to file a separate claim for damages against each at-fault party to recoup non-economic damages. Such damages may include damages for pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment, loss of consortium, loss of limbs, and emotional distress.

Why Hire an Irvine Car Accident Attorney?

If you have been injured in a multi-vehicle accident in Irvine, CA, it is imperative to get legal help. As noted above, the issue of liability can become complicated in multi-vehicle crashes. You will need to determine whether there are multiple at-fault parties. You will then need to determine which party should be nominated in your claim under the joint and several liability doctrines.

Here at the Crockett Law Group, we help you seek the maximum amount of compensation in a multi-vehicle crash without losing any valuable time. Our attorneys speed up the process by drawing on their extensive expertise in the area. Contact us today to discuss your Irvine crash claim with our attorneys.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit

More Legal Blogs