When it comes to auto accidents, the ones involving two vehicles are fairly straightforward. Either one driver or both makes one or more errors on the road and a crash is the outcome. Under these circumstances, figuring out who should be held accountable and by what percentage is usually simple. But what happens when multiple vehicles collide and three, four, or more parties could potentially be found responsible, at least in part? These accidents present more of a challenge requiring a seasoned automobile accident lawyer to sift through the evidence and testimonies of those involved and uncover who is at fault.
Unraveling who to blame for a crash and by what percentage
The reason you need to know exactly who is at fault after a multi-car accident—and by how much—is that California is a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that more than one person (or entity) may be held accountable for causing an accident by various percentages. The percentage of fault assigned to you will ultimately affect your award in a civil lawsuit with that percentage deducted from what you would have received if found wholly innocent. So, for example, if you are determined to be 30 percent responsible for the accident, the court will subtract 30 percent from what you would have received in a favorable verdict. With that in mind, your lawyer would research each person involved in the multivehicle accident with an eye toward demonstrating you bear as little responsibility for it as the facts support.
The following is an example of a typical Los Angeles multivehicle accident and the factors likely to be used to determine fault:
Driver A sees a yellow light ahead. Rather than slow down, she accelerates into an intersection.
The intersection has a very deep pothole in the middle that the city has not filled despite multiple complaints.
Driver B sees the light ahead is green and speeds into the same intersection going 15 miles over the speed limit.
Driver C takes a left turn through the intersection without pausing to check for other vehicles already there. She does so with the green light, but after the green arrow for a left turn is off.
Driver D is driving a truck into the intersection loaded well over the weight limit for the road being traveled.
Driver E is driving behind Driver D toward the intersection and tailgating the truck.
As a result of all of the above, Driver B hits the pothole, loses control, and collides with Driver A. Driver A spins into Driver C, who is mid-turn. Driver D slams on his brakes and swerves, which causes his overloaded cargo to shift and his truck rolls onto its side. Driver E hits the brakes as well but is unable to avoid slamming into the truck.
As you can see, arguably each driver and even the city of Los Angeles bears some responsibility for the accident described above. Based on police reports, witness statements, review of any video cameras set up at the intersection, the truck’s black box recording, and more, your lawyer could build a case that reduces or even eliminates your personal responsibility for the injuries and material losses suffered.
Sorting out complex Los Angeles automobile accidents
Multivehicle car accidents are rarely straightforward affairs. If you want to maximize your chances of receiving the full financial compensation you deserve from those responsible, contact an experienced Los Angeles auto accident lawyer right away. Scott J. Corwin can help, but only if you reach out to him at 800-946-9440.