Accidents involving multiple parties are typically complex because they involve different auto insurers. Unfortunately, all insurance companies share a common characteristic– minimizing recoverable damages and protecting their bottom lines!
In multiple faulting parties’ accidents, an experienced attorney is even more important– that’s why most people with accident casualties in Alaska contact an Alaska accident attorney to discuss their legal options.
The Complexity of Accidents involving Multiple Parties
Determining liability in accidents involving multiple parties is typically challenging because the different insurance companies will do everything to avoid liability. However, liability is apportioned to all parties involved depending on the facts of each case– meaning the responsibility of individual parties typically differs.
Each party should contribute to the settlement at the percentage of apportioned fault if the plaintiff wins the case.
Supposing an auto accident involves 3 parties–A, B, and C. Motorist A ran the red light at an intersection, B made a left turn while the red was on, and motorist C entered the intersection immediately green turned on.
A confluence of the above events resulted in a crash between motorists A, B, and C that thrust the cars into a different lane, where you were riding a motorcycle. Unfortunately, you couldn’t react promptly and all the 3 cars hit you.
It’s established that responsibility for the accident should be apportioned in this order; A–50%, B–30%, and C–20%.
Assuming you’re eligible to recover $500,000 in damages, motorists A, B, and C should contribute to the settlement as:
- A’s insurance company should contribute $250,000 (50% of $500,000);
- B’s insurance company contributes $150,000 (30% of $500,000);
- C’s insurance company should contribute$100,000 (10% of $500,000).
If one of the parties cannot pay their share due to various reasons, the plaintiff cannot recover the difference from the other parties because they’re not jointly liable for damages. Multiple at-fault defendants are considered to have a separate legal liability by law.
Determining Fault in a Multiple-Party Accident Claim
The facts of a car accident must be extensively reviewed when apportioning faults. Certain things will be needed in this stage, such as a copy of the accident report & police report, witness statements, and individual statements from the victims of the incident.
“We always recommend taking photos of the scene,” says Emmanuel Olawale, a car accident attorney in Westerville, OH. “Take photos of all vehicles involved and the damages to them; take photos of your injuries if they are visible. Keep a journal of everything that happened since the accident and be sure to include specific details such as time, location, weather conditions, and anything else that may have contributed to the crash.”
The chances that one defendant will accept responsibility (partially or wholly) are high, although the individual statement made by the involved parties can vary.
Negligence in Accident Claims Involving Multiple-Parties
The elements required to sustain a personal injury claim include:
- Duty of care;
- Breach of duty;
- Injury resulting from the breach; and
- Causation – the relationship between negligence and injuries sustained.
American states use two types of laws when assessing negligence in injury claims–contributory or comparative negligence laws;
In contributory negligence states, the plaintiff cannot recover damages from the other driver if they partially contributed to the accident. Supposing A and B are involved in an accident. A’s fault is 98% and B’s fault is only 2%. If B brings an injury claim against A, he/she will recover nothing.
The comparative negligence rule states a person can recover damages from all the parties involved in an accident. If there are only two parties, the defendant can cite the “partial fault” to limit their responsibility.
Recoverable damages are proportionately reduced by their degree of responsibility for the accident. Comparative negligence can be further broken into modified comparative negligence.
Comparative damage law states that a plaintiff cannot recover damages if their degree of fault responsibility is or exceeds 50%. In essence, you can’t be compensated if you equally contributed to the accident or injuries.
Using our previous illustration, we’ll assume the contribution of A, B, and C were 60%, 20%, and 20%, respectively. You didn’t contribute to the accident. Under modified comparative negligence, motorist A can’t be compensated even if their damages amounted to $100,000 because they’re 60 percent at fault.
Motorist B will recover damages but it will be proportionately reduced by their contribution (20%) totaling $160,000. Party A and C will contribute $120,000 and $40,000, respectively to B’s settlement.
Likewise, motorist C’s recoverable damages of $300,000 will be proportionately reduced by 20 %, qualifying for $240,000. In this case, Party A and B will contribute $180,000 and $60,000, respectively to C’s settlement.
Each party should contribute to your settlement ($500,000) by their degree of fault. In other words, motorists A, B, and C should contribute $300,000, $100,000, and $100,000, respectively, towards your settlement.
Responsibility or fault is not based on a specific formula. Rather, it’s often determined by negotiations between insurance companies and lawyers–that’s why you need an experienced accident attorney.
Accidents involving multiple-faulting parties are complex. It’s important to consult a legal expert for counsel when involved in such accidents.
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