Drivers who are hurt in crashes can pursue compensation if someone was to blame. Sometimes, however, there are multiple drivers who could potentially be responsible for a collision. A Charlotte injury attorney can help in situations where multi-vehicle crashes occur and questions are raised about liability.
One common type of multi-vehicle accident is a chain reaction crash. ABC News recently reported on a North Carolina driver who experienced this type of accident. The driver was rear-ended on his way home from school. The impact from the rear-end accident pushed the car into oncoming traffic where it was subsequently hit in the front by another motorist. The crash was called a “domino” crash because the rear driver striking the vehicle set off the chain of events that led to multiple accidents.
Chain Reaction Collisions Raise Legal Issues
Chain reaction crashes often cause serious injuries because drivers and passengers can be struck by multiple cars within a few seconds. The impact from repeated motor vehicle crashes can lead to soft tissue damage, traumatic brain injury and other serious health problems.
Determining who is to blame is essential so the appropriate party can be held responsible for losses. In the ABC News article about the domino accident, the driver who was rear-ended blamed the person behind him. He alleged that he saw that driver in his rear-view mirror and that the driver in the rear was looking down at the time, probably playing with his phone. The motorist in the rear car claimed that the crash happened because his windshield was fogged up; however, this excuse is not likely to absolve him of responsibility. In rear-end crashes, the driver of the rear-vehicle is usually presumed to be responsible for causing the crash because it is every motorist’s responsibility to maintain a safe distance between their vehicle and the car in front.
In some chain reaction accidents, it is not clearcut which driver was the one who started the domino effect. If there are multiple parties who share the blame, the rules of joint and several liability apply in North Carolina. This means each driver who was responsible for causing or contributing to the domino accident and resulting losses will be responsible for paying part or all of the compensation to the victim. If two drivers share responsibility and one has insufficient insurance or assets, the other could thus end up having to cover all of the damages.
Defendants who pay more than their share of losses are entitled to contribution and can pursue legal action to force the other responsible parties to pay their share. This is true only when the tort lawsuit was based on a negligence tort, rather than an intentional tort.
Other states have different rules on joint liability. In South Carolina, for example, a defendant who is less than 50 percent responsible for causing losses faces only several liability and is not on the hook for the other party’s share of damages even if they cannot pay.
It is important to understand the local rules after a multi-vehicle or domino accident to determine how best to pursue a damage claim.
Contact the South Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
More Blog Entries:
N. Pac. Ins. Co. v. Stucky – Loss of Consortium Claims After Crash, Nov. 26, 2014, Greensboro Crash Lawyer Blog