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How is Fault Determined for a Multi-Vehicle Crash?

liability for multi-vehicle crash Multi-vehicle crashes are very common today, especially on busier roads and highways. Also called chain reaction collisions, these accidents often have several victims, and the injuries tend to be more severe. How do insurance companies determine fault for a multi-vehicle crash, and why does it matter in a no-fault state?

Assessing liability for a crash involving three or more vehicles is a complicated and often lengthy process. At Jay Trucks, we understand this, and our Grand Rapids auto accident attorneys are prepared to fully investigate what happened and help you seek the compensation you need.

Call 24/7 for a FREE case review. 989-244-0356

Why is it Harder to Determine Fault for a Multi-Vehicle Crash?

Multi-vehicle crash claims are extremely challenging to resolve without legal help. Along with having multiple vehicles, drivers and insurers to deal with, there are other factors affecting liability. This can make it difficult for victims who need to seek compensation.

What Factors Impact Liability in a Multi-Vehicle Crash?

There are many factors that first responders and other crash scene investigators look at to help them determine liability for a multi-car crash, such as determining:

  • Which vehicle caused the primary impact
  • If the crash was due to negligence
  • How many injured victims are involved
  • The root cause of both the primary and secondary impacts
  • Whether more than one driver is at fault

To answer these questions, investigators will speak with all drivers involved in the crash, examine crash scene evidence, review any traffic or dash cam footage, and take witness statements.

What Are Primary and Secondary Impacts?

In a multi-vehicle crash, there are both primary and secondary impact collisions to consider. The primary impact is the first impact between vehicles in the crash. The secondary crashes that follow would not have happened but for that primary impact.

Are Multi-Vehicle Crashes Always Caused by Driver Negligence?

There may be rare cases where an unexpected road hazard, such as a large pothole, could lead a multi-vehicle crash. Bad weather may also come into play, causing drivers to lose control of their vehicles and crash. However, most of the time, even in those situations, driver negligence is typically fully or at least partly to blame. Examples include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Drivers impaired by alcohol or other substances
  • Drowsy or fatigued drivers
  • Tailgating – following another vehicle too closely
  • Excessive speeding
  • Driving without considering weather conditions, such as black ice and heavy rain

Why No-Fault Insurance May Not Be Enough

Michigan is a no-fault state, so personal injury protection (PIP) insurance will help pay for medical costs and other losses. However, PIP does not cover everything. After a more severe crash, victims may often have insufficient insurance to cover all of their economic damages.

What PIP Insurance Covers

PIP insurance helps cover these costs and other benefits up to the limits purchased:

  • Related medical expenses – i.e. emergency care, surgeries, diagnostics, and more
  • Up to 85 percent of your lost income for up to three years after the crash
  • Personal attendant care and housing accommodations
  • Replacement services, for help with household chores, yard maintenance and more
  • Burial and funeral expenses if a victim passes away

PIP Covers More Than Just the Policyholder

Your PIP insurance may cover more than just your injuries and losses. Others who may be able to claim on your policy include others injured by your vehicle.

For instance:

  • A passenger riding in your vehicle
  • One or more pedestrians involved in the crash
  • A motorcyclist involved in the multi-car crash

Why Liability Still Matters in a No-Fault State

One or more victims of a multi-vehicle crash are very likely to have severe or catastrophic injuries. Although Michigan is a no-fault state, certain injuries may allow victims to seek excess damages. For this to happen, a victim’s injury must meet one of the state’s injury thresholds, which include:

  • Permanent serious disfigurement
  • Serious impairment of a critical body function
  • Loss of life

When seeking excess damages, assessing fault and proving negligence is a must. If the injured victim (plaintiff) or his or her attorney cannot prove negligence, there is no case.

What Happens if You Share Some Fault for a Multi-Vehicle Crash?

Michigan follows a modified comparative negligence rule. As long as you are not more than 50 percent responsible, you may still be eligible for excess damages. You may also be able to seek compensation from more than one at-fault party. However, your percentage of fault will be paid out of any compensation you are awarded.

Insurance companies will be looking for any opportunity to reduce or deny a claim. This means looking for multiple parties to blame. Having an attorney on your side can help to protect your interests and ensure you are not assessed more than your share of fault.

Injured in a Multi-Car Crash? Our Legal Team is Ready to Help

At Jay Trucks, we understand that time matters in any crash, but especially in a multi-car crash where evidence can quickly be lost.

If you were injured in a multi-vehicle collision, we encourage you to find out about your legal options right away. There are time limits after a Michigan car crash that you should be aware of to avoid missing the opportunity to recover your losses.

Our attorneys have extensive experience and a history of proven results. Your initial consultation is completely free, and there are no costs or fees to pay up front if we represent you. Call to get started today. Our staff are available to take your call anytime, night or day.

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