If you were involved in a multi-car collision, you understand the devastating consequences this type of accident can have. You may be facing severe financial damages stemming from costly medical bills, vehicle repairs, and lost wages. But before you can seek compensation for your losses, you need to know: How are multi-vehicle accident claims handled?
At Prince Law Firm, we routinely handle the type of crash known as a multi-vehicle accident, multi-car pile-up, chain reaction collision, or pile-up crash. If you were injured in an Illinois car accident involving multiple vehicles, we may be able to help you recover financial compensation.
After reviewing our outline of how multi-vehicle accident claims are handled in Illinois, please reach out to our Marion personal injury law firm with questions specific to your case.
Who Is Liable for Injuries in an Illinois Multi-Vehicle Accident?
Determining who is liable for an accident is the first step in seeking recovery for losses. In a typical two-car accident, the victim has the legal right to file a claim against the at-fault driver and their insurance company. This is generally a straightforward process, although there can be complications when liability is contested.
However, a multi-car collision is a different story. After a messy crash involving multiple parties, it can take a significant amount of time to sort out the details. It’s difficult to accurately pinpoint the first mistake that caused a chain reaction and any subsequent actions that contributed to the severity of the outcome. Determining liability is best left to experienced car accident attorneys who have successfully handled multi-car accidents in the past.
In order to correctly file your car accident claim, you need to know which party or parties are responsible for the accident. Illinois law recognizes that the actions of more than one party may have contributed to a traffic event. When it comes to handling multi-vehicle accident claims, Illinois’ comparative negligence laws become a key point.
What Are Illinois Comparative Negligence Laws?
Illinois follows a modified comparative negligence system for handling multi-vehicle accident claims. This means a party can still recover damages if they are partially at fault for an accident, but only as long as they are less than 50% at fault. If someone is more than half at fault for the accident and injuries, they are not entitled to file a claim for compensation.
The percentage a party is at fault will commensurately reduce their amount of compensation. For example, if a driver is found to be 10% at fault in a multi-car pile-up and is entitled to $10,000 in damages, they will only recover $9,000, as 10% will be taken off for their portion of fault.
In a collision with many vehicles involved and multiple parties suffering damages, there may be several claims filed. Only those motorists less than 50% at fault for the accident will be eligible to recover damages.
How Is Fault Determined in a Multi-Car Pile-Up?
Things can get quite convoluted when there are multiple involved drivers (and their attorneys and insurance companies) all examining the available evidence to determine liability.
The amount of investigation required to accurately sort out liability is much higher in multi-vehicle accidents than other types of car accidents.
You should be prepared that this may take some time and that you will likely be contacted by investigators and insurance adjusters. Be careful what you say, as any statement from you can be used to prove your involvement in the crash. Never admit fault, assign blame, make assumptions, or discuss your condition. In fact, it’s always best to let your attorneys handle these communications for you.
At the same time, your lawyers will be working hard to gather the evidence needed to support your claim for compensation. In our experience with this type of situation, we know we need to act swiftly and astutely to get the evidence we need to protect our clients’ rights.
At Prince Law Firm, we look at things like:
- Any available video from cell phones, dashcams, traffic cameras, or nearby surveillance cameras
- Police reports made at the accident scene
- Eyewitness statements
- Photographs of the collision scene
- The expert testimony of professionals like traffic reconstructionists
- Damage to vehicles and road surfaces
- The positions and angles of involved vehicles
- Weather and traffic conditions at the time of the crash
- Whether there were potholes, road debris, broken traffic signals, or any other similar issues
- The injuries suffered by vehicle occupants involved in the accident
What Causes Multi-Vehicle Crashes?
There are a number of factors that can cause and contribute to the severity of multi-car collisions. The severe winter weather we experience in Illinois often plays a role in this type of traffic accident. One driver’s initial mistake can quickly lead to a massive pile-up when drivers slide, skid, and lose control of their vehicles in icy and snowy conditions.
Time of day and year can also influence how severe a multi-vehicle accident is, as rush hours and holiday seasons are more likely to see large numbers of vehicles traveling the roads and highways of Southern Illinois. Holidays like Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Memorial Day also have higher rates of drunk driving than other times of the year.
A few of the factors sometimes involved in multi-vehicle accident claims include:
- Texting and driving, and other forms of distracted driving
- Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs (prescription or illegal)
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Reckless or aggressive driving, including instances of road rage
- Street racing
- Police chases
- Driving in a manner unfit for weather or traffic conditions
Help for Injured Victims of Multi-Vehicle Accidents
Prince Law Firm advocates for victims of motorist negligence in Marion, IL and across the state. Because multi-vehicle accident claims can be particularly difficult to handle, we meet with all potential clients first during a free consultation to discuss case details. During this meeting, we will be able to determine if you have grounds for a legal claim.
After your initial free case evaluation, you are under no obligation to partner with our law office. The decision to work with Prince Law Firm is always yours to make. Every case we take is important to us, and if we both agree to work together, you know you have a tireless advocate on your side.
Contact us by phone or online to schedule your free consultation at our Marion, Il office.