WHO’S AT FAULT?
Often, the trickiest part of a multi-vehicle accident is determining who is at fault.
Let’s say there are 3 cars stopped at a traffic light. A fourth car, which is speeding, doesn’t stop in time and rear ends the 3rd car in the line of stopped cars. The 3rd car is pushed into the 2nd car, which is then pushed into the front car, resulting in a 4-car pile-up. While this multi-vehicle wreck would seem to be 100% the fault of the initial person who caused the accident, it may be determined that the other cars were also partially at fault. For instance, let’s say the 2nd and 3rd cars are ticketed for being stopped too closely to the cars in front of them. Had they allowed more space, they likely would not have been pushed into the car directly in front of them. Therefore, they may be assigned a percentage of the blame for the four-car accident.
CAN I STILL RECOVER FOR INJURIES IF I’M FOUND PARTIALLY AT-FAULT IN A MULTI-VEHICLE ACCIDENT?
In Georgia, even if you’re found to be partly to blame for an accident, you may still be able to recover for your injuries as long as you were not 50% or more at fault.
Let’s take the above situation as an example. Let’s say that cars 2 and 3 were each assigned 10% of the blame for the accident. In Georgia, they each may be able to recover up to 90% for their injuries, less the 10% they were found to be at fault. Therefore, if they were awarded $10,000 they would only be able to recover $9,000. The speeding car, which started the chain of events, is assigned 80% of the blame. Because the driver of the speeding car was found to be more than 50% at fault, he/she may not be able to recover for any personal injury damages.
DETERMINING PERCENTAGE OF FAULT
The above is a very simplistic example of how apportionment and negligence in multi-vehicle wrecks work in Georgia. Each case is different, and it can be complicated to determine who is at fault and the percentage of their blame.
Ways to determine who is at fault may include interviewing officers and witnesses, obtaining cell phone records, examining photographs, reviewing police wreck reports, and in more serious accidents, especially tractor-trailer accidents, using an accident reconstructionist to reconstruct the accident.
If you have been involved in a multi-vehicle accident it is important to speak to an injury lawyer as soon as possible to investigate your accident and determine your eligibility for compensation. A personal injury lawyer may be able to prove that you were not at fault, or less at fault than originally assigned. This can make a huge difference when it comes to your financial compensation and covering medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
Our office has years of experience handling a variety of multi-vehicle accidents. Contact one of our accident lawyers today for a free consultation.