If I Hit a Car After Being Rear-Ended, Am I Also at Fault?
If you have been involved in a chain reaction car accident, where a car that rear-ended you forced you into the car in front of you, you might reasonably have some questions about your own liability. These situations can get complicated, as someone is clearly at fault. However, establishing who is liable might be difficult.
The driver of the car that you hit may choose to bring a personal injury suit against both you and the driver behind you. This does not always mean that you are liable. If the driver behind you is the one who caused the accident, and you did nothing to contribute to the crash, you will not be at fault. Various states use different theories of contributory negligence. If you acted negligently in a way that contributed to the accident, your comparative fault may impact your ability to recover damages.
If you were rear-ended by a driver and the collision caused a chain reaction car accident, you should reach out to the diligent personal injury defense attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. Our Dallas car accident attorneys can explain your rights in these situations and help you file a claim to get the compensation that you are owed. Call our offices at (817) 476-1797 to schedule your consultation.
Liability in Rear-End Collisions Caused by Chain Reaction
A “chain reaction” car accident has happened when three or more cars collide with one another due to the residual force of the first collision. Usually, the primary fault resides with the driver furthest in the rear. If that driver failed to observe proper driving guidelines by failing to leave enough room between their car and the car in front of them (i.e., your car), their negligence has been established.
This does not mean that you have escaped liability entirely, however. Some states follow a modified contributory negligence theory, in which two or more individuals may be found liable for the negligent damage or injury to the plaintiff. There are two key instances in which a court may find that you are at least partially liable for the damage to the car in front of you.
First, the driver in front of you may claim that they felt two collisions. This would indicate to the court that your car was first to hit their car, and that you were also negligent in failing to leave room between your car and the plaintiff’s car.
Second, the driver may attempt to argue that you were also at fault for failing to leave enough room between your car and their car. In other words, the crux of the argument centers on whether the collision between your car and the car behind you would not have forced your car into the rear fender of the car in front of you if you had left an appropriate amount of space.
How Can I Prevent My Own Liability?
To combat these claims, it is important that you secure the testimony of witnesses who may have witnessed the events of the collision. You should also ensure that you have received a copy of the police report. If you are able to, take pictures of the area where the accident happens. Experts should be able to convey a clear picture of what happened through evidence of damage to the cars, skid marks on the road, and other readily available visual evidence.
If you are unsure how to compile this evidence or need help gathering it or making sense of it, the experienced Dallas personal injury attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. can help you out.
If I Am Partially at Fault for a Chain Reaction Car Accident, What Can I Recover?
In modified contributory negligence states, the court must make a determination as to each party’s level of responsibility for the accident and damages as a result. This determination will come in the form of a percentage. For instance, if the court finds that the driver behind you was 80% responsible for the injury to you and the damage to your car and you were 20% responsible, you would only be able to recover 80% of the total damages you incurred.
There are some instances where the lead driver may bear some responsibility for the accident. In such cases, damages could be substantially lessened or even thrown out. Situations leading to contributory negligence on the part of the first driver include if the first driver was:
- Failing to use hazard lights or a turn signal to indicate a slowing down
- “Brake-checking” or braking suddenly without good reason
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Swerving or changing lanes unnecessarily
- Looking at their phone
If the lead driver is also contributorily negligent, they may owe you some portion of the damages to your car. Absent one of the above factors, the distribution of liability is unlikely to be altered.
As a plaintiff, you could pursue damages under a few different theories. Calculating damages in these cases requires a consideration of any or all of the following:
The plaintiff can attempt to get compensation for any medical costs incurred immediately after the accident such as an ambulance ride or hospital care. A plaintiff could also try to recover damages for subsequent required expenses such as physical therapy.
If the injuries that you sustained were significant enough that they impaired your ability to perform the duties of your job, you could attempt to recover your lost wages as compensation.
Pain and Suffering
Physical and emotional suffering may reasonably follow any traffic accident. While more difficult to prove definitively, this type of damages may end up proving to be the most costly.
Rear Ended by a Car Causing a Multiple Car Accident? You Can Still Get Compensated
Regardless of whether you were partially at fault for a chain reaction car accident, you may still be able to recover for the damages you sustained. The Houston personal injury defense attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm, P.C. will work hard to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at (817) 476-1797.