Determining Fault in Multi-Vehicle Accidents Can Be Complex Task

Interstate 90 came to a halt last Sunday evening about five miles east of Cle Elum, Wash., as a result of a five-vehicle chain reaction accident. The collisions began when a 2006 Dodge Ram struck the rear of a Honda CRV. The Honda CRV then ran into another pickup truck. The second truck then hit another SUV, which in turn struck a fifth vehicle. According to authorities, all five vehicles were damaged and one driver was injured. The Washington State Patrol report noted “driving too fast for conditions” as a factor in the accident.

Washington State Multi-Car Accidents

According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there were more than 254 million registered passenger vehicles on U.S. roads in the year 2009. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that the number of vehicles on the roads increases by about 5 million each year. So multi-vehicle car accidents are hardly surprising.

A multi-car accident can occur at slow speeds or at high speeds. Slow speed, chain reaction accidents frequently happen at stop lights when one vehicle fails to stop in time. At higher speeds, multi-vehicle accidents are often triggered by a driver losing control, resulting in numerous separate, yet interrelated, collisions.

Some common causes of multi-vehicle accidents include:

  • Excessive speed;
  • Failing to stop when required;
  • Distracted driving;
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • Drowsy/fatigued driving;
  • Failing to slow down for construction zones.

The Issue of Negligence in A Multi-Vehicle Accident

Multi-vehicle accidents can be challenging from a legal perspective. In a multi-vehicle accident, you often have more than one negligent party. While one party’s negligence may have initiated the collision, one or more other drivers may also have contributed. In that case, you may have numerous defendants and insurance companies trying to decide who is to blame. This can frustrate a victim who just wants to be compensated for his or her injuries.

Washington State is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that multiple parties can share the blame for injuries sustained in an accident, including the victim of the accident. To illustrate this, imagine that you are involved in a four-car collision and that you sustained injuries totaling $50,000. It is ultimately decided that vehicle A was 40 percent responsible for your injuries, vehicle B was 20 percent responsible, vehicle C was 30 percent responsible, and you were 10 percent responsible. This means that you are entitled to collect 90 percent of the total value of your damages, or $45,000 ($50,000 x .90). Vehicle A will be required to pay $20,000 ($50,000 x .40), vehicle B will be required to pay $10,000 ($50,000 x .20) and vehicle C will be responsible for $15,000 ($50,000 x .30), which together equal $45,000. The remaining $5,000 represents your 10 percent share.

A Washington State Accident Attorney Can Help

If you have been involved in a multi-vehicle accident in the State of Washington, you need a Washington car accident attorney on your side. Insurance companies don’t like to pay out any more than they have to when an insured has been negligent and caused injuries. Insurance adjusters are always ready to try and place the blame on another vehicle in the collision, which can lead to delays and frustration for the victims.

Don’t let the complexity of a multi-vehicle accident intimidate you. You are entitled to compensation if someone else was at fault.Washington State car accident attorney Mariano Morales can help. Contact the Mariano Morales Law team today by calling (509) 853-2222 or by using our online contact form for your free initial consultation.