What If Multiple People Caused My Car Accident?
Imagine that you’re riding as a passenger in your friend’s vehicle. You’re looking down at your phone. All of a sudden, your vehicle is violently shaken. You realize that another vehicle has collided with your vehicle. Your friend pulls your vehicle over to the shoulder of the road. You ask, “what happened?” Your friend says, “that other driver ran a red light and hit us.” A few minutes later, the other driver gets out of his vehicle and approaches your vehicle. When the other driver reaches your vehicle, he begins to yell at your friend. The other driver claims that his light was green and your friend turned across his traffic lane at the last second. Both of them can’t be correct. What do you do?
In a situation like that one, multiple people may be at fault for causing your car accident. Perhaps, both drivers had green lights, but the driver of the other vehicle was speeding and your friend failed to yield to the other driver’s vehicle when he turned across the driver’s traffic lane. Or, perhaps, it was only one of the two drivers that were negligent. Unfortunately, you weren’t looking at the road, so you don’t know who was at fault. There are no witnesses to the collision other than the two drivers.
When multiple people are at fault for causing a car accident, it can be challenging to obtain full compensation for your losses because each driver’s insurance carrier will point the finger at the other driver. We urge you to contact an Atlanta car accident lawyer that handles disputed liability cases. The lawyers at Graham Scofield Injury Lawyers have recovered millions of dollars for clients that were injured in car collisions caused by multiple people.
File A Claim Against Both Drivers’ Insurance Carriers
Although your friend will give you grief if you file a claim against his insurance carrier, you should do so under these circumstances, in addition to filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance carrier.
If you only file a claim against the other driver’s insurance carrier, the other driver’s insurance carrier might deny your claim by contending that your friend was at fault. If your case ends up going to trial, and you’ve only sued the other driver, the jury might award you $100,000, but decide that your friend was 100% at fault. Since you didn’t sue your friend, let alone file a claim against his insurance carrier, you recover nothing in that scenario.
If you file a claim against both insurance carriers, the carriers might still deny liability. They might even force you to go to trial. However, at trial, the jury could apportion fault between the two drivers. For instance, the jury might award you $100,000 and decide that your friend was 25% at fault and the other driver was 75% at fault. In that scenario, you recover the full $100,000. $25,000 of the verdict is paid by your friend’s insurance carrier. 75% of the verdict is paid by the other driver’s insurance carrier.
“Ghost” Vehicle Accidents
A common fact pattern that we see occurs when the at fault driver claims that the accident was caused by a third party that fled the scene of the collision before the police arrived. We call this a “ghost” vehicle defense because the at fault driver has typically imagined the third vehicle, or intentionally made it up as an excuse to try and avoid accepting responsibility for the harms he caused.
The “ghost” vehicle defense often emerges in a highway collision case where the defendant rear ends our client’s vehicle. The defendant will contend that he rear-ended our client’s vehicle because another vehicle cut in front of him, or side swiped him, which forced him to swerve into our client’s traffic lane whereupon he was unable to stop in time to avoid colliding with our client’s vehicle.
Our clients are understandably frustrated when this “ghost” vehicle defense emerges. It typically requires us to sue the at fault driver and conduct discovery. In order to overcome this defense, we will try and locate anyone that observed the collision and get a recorded statement from them. We may also hire an expert to inspect the at fault driver’s vehicle to see whether the damage on his vehicle is consistent with a side swipe from a third vehicle. The goal is to establish that the at fault driver’s excuse is meritless.
If the at fault driver decides to stick with the “ghost” vehicle defense at trial, even in the face of all the evidence that indicates there wasn’t a third driver, he does so at his own risk. Juries don’t appreciate defendants that refuse to accept responsibility for their actions.
Chain Reaction Car Accidents
One of the most common types of multi-vehicle accidents is a chain reaction collision. In that scenario, Car 1 hits Car 2, which in turn collides with Car 3, and so on.
In that type of accident, the first car to cause the collision is typically liable for all of the resulting crashes and injuries. That may be the furthest vehicle to the back, which pushes each car into the vehicle in front of them. The first collision may be by the motorist in the middle, Car 2, who strikes the vehicle in front, Car 1. The following vehicle, Car 3, may not expect a sudden stop and then collide with Car 2.
We will thoroughly investigate a chain reaction accident to determine who caused the first collision that led to the other collisions
There are also circumstances in which another driver may also be liable for contributing to the chain reaction or for failing to leave enough room between themselves and the cars in front of them.
Other Responsible Parties
Most car accidents are caused by driver error. However, that is not always the case.
Car accidents also can occur because of defective vehicle parts. For example, the 2014-18 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ each had a defective steering-wheel bolt that could loosen and cause the steering wheel to detach. That serious defect led to some motorists losing control of their vehicles. The resulting crash and injuries would likely be to blame on the manufacturer.
When we investigate the crash that led to your injuries, we will carefully review whether any of the vehicles involved had a known defect.
Crashes may also happen because of defective roads and traffic control systems. We have handled accidents arising because of malfunctioning or poorly programmed traffic lights, missing traffic signs, and poorly designed roads and intersections.
We also will review the crash rates associated with the road and intersection where your collision occurred to determine if the state or local municipality—whoever is responsible for maintaining that road—has been negligent by not providing better traffic controls.
Graham Scofield Injury Lawyers Can Help
If you’re seriously injured by a collision that was caused by multiple drivers, you should hire an Atlanta car accident lawyer at your earliest opportunity. Insurance carriers love these cases because they can try and justify a lowball settlement offer by pointing the finger at the driver that they don’t insure. Don’t let the insurance carriers add insult to your injuries.
The lawyers at Graham Scofield Injury Lawyers have litigated disputed liability car accidents cases and car accidents caused by multiple people for over three decades. We welcome the opportunity to prove to the insurance carriers that their excuses won’t hold up in court. If multiple people are responsible for causing the collision, we will take them all to court and let the jury decide how much compensation each defendant should pay to make our client whole.