Liability in Multi-Vehicle Accidents in Florida
Nov. 7, 2016
When you are rear-ended by another vehicle, it is often easy to determine fault. In such simple situations, insurance claims can be processed quickly and you have a respectable settlement within weeks or months. However, most auto accidents are not straightforward. Many involve multiple vehicles and there are questions regarding who was at fault. In some situations, more than one driver is responsible and it comes down to percentages. Who owes how much and to whom must then be decided by the courts. If you were involved in a multi-vehicle accident, you may need to file a personal injury claim in court to have the issue of liability solved and to win the recovery you deserve.
What to Do After a Multi-Vehicle Accident
You should treat every vehicle involved in your accident the same as you would if one driver had rear-ended you. You will need to gather personal and insurance information for each driver – even for cars or commercial vehicles you did not come into direct contact with. It is also best to gather the personal information from witnesses, including passengers in the other vehicles. The more information you gather, the better. This gives your lawyer a great starting point to investigate the collision.
Like in any other type of accident, you should never admit fault. Even if you believe you may have been fully or partially responsible, you should leave initial determinations of fault to the police. Insurance companies and your attorney will later conduct more thorough investigations. Either the insurance companies involved or a judge during a personal injury claim will make a final decision regarding liability.
Comparative and Contributory Fault in Florida
Under Statute 768.81(3), a court will enter judgment against each party liable on the basis of such party’s percentage of fault. This is why percentages of fault matter a great deal. For example, if there were three drivers equally responsible for the collision, each driver would be liable for one-third of the damages. Or if one driver was 80 percent responsible for the accident while another was 20 percent responsible, they would split payment of the damages 80/20.
You may wonder how the process works if the court finds that you were in some way responsible for the collision as well. If you are seeking damages in a personal injury claim and you are somewhat at fault, you are not barred from recovery. However, your damages will be diminished by the amount you were responsible. This is known as contributory fault under Statute 768.81(2).
Contact Oldham & Smith for Help
If you were injured in a multi-vehicle collision, you will need an attorney to fight for your right to recover property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The fact that a number of drivers instead of just one caused your injuries should not stand in your way of the financial recovery you need to move forward with life. At Oldham & Smith, we can help you handle multiple insurance claims and if necessary, file a personal injury claim against the at-fault parties.
Contact or call Oldham & Smith today to schedule a consultation.