The most important part of any injury settlement is proving fault. And in Alabama, proving fault is extremely important. That’s because our state uses a contributory negligence system for awarding compensation after accidents and injuries.
This system only allows people who have ZERO fault to receive compensation. Being assigned even 1% of fault for a crash means a victim can’t get a single penny for their damages.
Proving fault in single-vehicle crashes requires evidence and investigative skills, but it can be a fairly straightforward process. Proving fault in multi-vehicle crashes, however, can be much more difficult and time-consuming. When three or more vehicles are involved in a crash, fault may be spread among multiple drivers, and they all should be identified to sort out who can be held liable and who is eligible for compensation.
Here’s how determining fault in these crashes works.
Multi-vehicle crashes often happen on busy highways and interstates. Because there are often many vehicles in the area when they occur, there are also many witnesses. When police officers arrive at the scene of multi-vehicle crashes, part of their job is to fill out accident reports, which also involves trying to determine the causes of those crashes.
It’s not always possible to determine why a crash happened simply by looking at the crash scene, so police will speak with drivers, passengers, and witnesses. Although not everyone’s recollection of what happened will match up, the big picture of the crash can be revealed—including when and where the first collision occurred.
Not every crash is recorded on video, but many are. Dashcams are more common than ever, and many highways and interstates also have cameras. This footage can be invaluable for determining how a multi-vehicle pileup began.
For example, footage may show a driver failing to slow down to avoid a rear-end collision. Additional collisions may occur because other drivers were distracted and didn’t see what happened, or they were following too closely and didn’t have time to slow down or stop to avoid a crash.
Sometimes, simply looking at the positions of vehicles and their impact zones can help police and investigators determine how and where a pileup began. When several vehicles are involved in a chain-reaction fender-bender, the driver of the second vehicle in the lineup is likely to be at fault for the crash, as they rear-ended the first vehicle and caused other drivers to crash into their vehicle.
Tire marks on the road can also show where drivers began slamming their brakes to avoid a collision. When there are no tire marks from the path of a certain vehicle, it may indicate that the driver was distracted and didn’t even attempt to slow down or stop to avoid a crash.
Multi-vehicle pileups can block highways and interstates and result in huge traffic jams. Because of this, there’s often significant pressure on police officers to get them cleared as quickly as possible with the help of tow truck drivers and cleanup crews. But clearing crash scenes within minutes or hours means that it can be much more difficult to get a “big picture” view of what happened.
Accident reconstruction teams can recreate crash scenes based on video footage, photographs, and testimony to allow themselves and attorneys a chance to carefully review the facts. These reconstructions make it possible to view crash scenes armed with all information instead of making knee-jerk assumptions shortly after they occur.
Many drivers feel helpless after being injured in multi-vehicle pileups. It’s common for these victims to have been struck by drivers who themselves were innocent and were struck by the drivers of vehicles who ALSO couldn’t avoid a collision. When drivers leave the scene of a pileup without knowing who was at fault, they may give up on the notion of filing an injury claim.
But fault had to originate somewhere, regardless of how many vehicles were involved in a crash. That’s where we come in. At The Vance Law Firm, our Montgomery car accident lawyers know how to prove fault in crashes, whether they involve two vehicles or 20. Contact us today for a free consultation if you or someone you love was injured in a pileup. We’ll work hard to get you the money you’re owed.