Shared Liability In Multiple Car Accidents
Multi-vehicle accidents commonly known as pile-ups or multi-vehicle collisions are crashes that involve more than one car and account for a third of the annual accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.1 A multi-vehicle accident directly corresponds to a chain reaction form of behavior where cars can be hit multiple time and from multiple directions.2 The initial cause of a multi-vehicle accident can be varied, but often is associated with inclement weather, speeding, distracted driving (i.e. phone use, radio use, reading maps, eating, personal grooming, etc.), drowsy driving, or intoxicated driving.3 Determining fault in a multi-vehicle accident can be a complex matter, because not exercising reasonable care can equate to negligence, but when that negligent at causes another driver to harm someone or when there are multiple negligent acts determining liability can be difficult. This is why determining fault in a multi-vehicle accident often falls on shared liability doctrines.
What is Shared Liability?
An auto accident that involves multiple vehicles causes the concept of comparative negligence to arise. This legal theory of negligence focuses on splitting blame and responsibility for damages.4 The way in which comparative negligence works is by first determining the percentage of fault a person shares in an accident. The next step is to reduce monetary recovery by the percentage of fault. This type of percentage based recovery reduction is often referred to as apportionment of fault or allocation of fault.5 Under this form of pure comparative negligence, a person who shared 25 percent of fault for an accident can only recover from the other negligent driver for the 75 percent of fault held by the other liable person.
Shared Liability Applied to a Multi-Vehicle Accident
In an accident that involves multiple parties each involved person will be investigated to determine if there was any responsibility or liability behind a drivers actions. Possible points of negligent behavior may include intoxication, speeding, running a red light, failure to yield, partially pulling over a disabled vehicle from the roadway, reckless driving, or following too closely.6 For instance, if a driver is speeding and hits another driver who was running a red light which causes an intoxicated driver to not recognize the dangerous situation so he continues to drive through the intersection despite the clear obstacles in his path, all three drivers could be considered liable. Under a shared liability rule or comparative negligence, each driver could still receive compensation according to his percentage of fault.7
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you have been involved in a multiple car accident in which you share in the liability for the collision, it is important to discuss the circumstances of your injury with an experienced auto accident attorney who can help to protect your legal rights and interests. To contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation please feel free to call the The Bruning Law Firm trial attorneys at 314-735-8100.