How to Determine Liability After a Multi-Vehicle Accident
If you were hurt in a multi-vehicle accident, there are several options to consider when it comes to seeking compensation for medical bills, lost income, and other damages. If your injuries weren’t that serious, you would probably file a claim against your own no-fault insurance policy. But if you suffered a permanent disability or lost a family member in such a collision, you might be able to bring a claim against the at-fault driver(s)’ liability insurance.
In order for a third-party claim to be successful, you must be able to prove fault. Read on to learn the basics of determining and proving liability after a multi-vehicle accident:
Conduct a Thorough Investigation
Your attorney should be able to determine what happened in the moments leading up to the crash by conducting a thorough investigation. They may visit the accident scene, talk to eyewitnesses, look for surveillance and dash cam footage, review the police report, and consult an accident reconstruction expert. Depending on what’s uncovered in the early stages of the investigation, your lawyer may also try to access cell phone records and black box data from any vehicles equipped with an electronic data recorder.
If it turns out multiple parties are liable, your attorney will have to determine the specific role that each played in causing the accident. Since Florida practices pure several liability, defendants are responsible only for the portion of damages that corresponds to their own percentage of fault. That means you cannot pursue 100 percent of the damages from any one party. Instead, you must seek the appropriate amount of compensation from each defendant separately.
Naturally, this can complicate the proceedings considerably. It can also lead to disputes if defendants try to shift blame in order to reduce their own liability. The key to avoiding and overcoming such disputes is to gather extensive evidence while it’s still available, which is why it’s so important to speak with a skilled personal injury lawyer right away.
Find out If You Can File a Third-Party Claim
When it comes to car accident claims, Florida follows a no-fault system. That means victims are expected to pursue compensation from their own insurer regardless of whether they contributed to the collision, unless the crash resulted in:
- A permanent Injury;
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement;
- The permanent loss of a bodily organ or function; or