Insurance and Liability Issues in Multi-Vehicle Accidents

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The old cliché “Expect the unexpected” became a cliché for a reason: it’s true. No one expects to be in a car accident, yet just about every driver will be in an auto accident sometime during his or her driving career. If you are in a car accident, the very first thing that needs your attention is the damage to your body. You should seek medical help right away even if there are no obvious injuries. Once you have sought medical attention and filed a police report, your insurance company will contact you to hear the details of the accident.

While many people believe the insurance company is “on your side,” unfortunately, that is not really the case. Keep in mind that the job of the insurance company is to pay out as little money as possible on claims that are filed. While you may think your insurance company is your advocate, your representative is still looking to minimize how much is paid to you. For this reason, it is imperative that you understand the insurance and liability issues involved in car accidents in your state.

It is impossible to explain here all about insurance and liability issues in multi-vehicle auto accidents in each state, but a basic overview may suffice until you can contact an experienced auto accident lawyer in your area, which you should do immediately following your car accident. Only an experienced auto accident lawyer can explain to you the liability laws in the state in which you live.

Determining Fault and Liability

In its purest form, "fault" for causing an accident is either created by statute or defined by common law. There are four basic levels of fault:

  • Negligence
  • Recklessness or wanton conduct
  • Intentional misconduct
  • Strict liability

Negligence generally means careless or unintentional conduct that results in harm or damage to someone’s person or property. It is a recurring factor in a majority of automobile accidents. Reckless or wanton conduct generally refers to a willful disregard for whether harm may result and/or a disregard for the safety and welfare of others.

In most states, people who have caused an automobile accident have committed a "tort," which is a private wrong against another but is not necessarily a crime. Those who have committed torts are referred to as "tortfeasors" under the law. Many automobile insurance policies continue to use the word "tortfeasor" to refer to people who are at least partly "at fault" or responsible for an accident. When there are multiple tortfeasors involved in an accident, state law dictates who must pay for damage to property and injuries to the occupants of vehicles, but these laws vary from state to state.

Determining fault and liability in multi-vehicle auto accidents can be quite confusing. If you have suffered injury or lost a loved one in a multi-vehicle accident anywhere in the United States, please visit the website of The Cochran Firm today.