Multiple-Vehicle Accident Injuries in Virginia — Who Pays?
Crashes involving multiple vehicles usually happen on high-speed interstates like I-64 and I-264 or other multi-lane highways. Being in one is a terrifying experience. In the aftermath of the collision, determining who is at fault is always complicated. If you’re a victim of multi-vehicle accident injuries in Virginia, one of your concerns will be trying to figure out who pays for your injuries.
Who Is Legally Responsible for a Multi-Vehicle Collision?
The same legal rules that apply to two-car collisions will determine responsibility in a multi-vehicle accident. In Virginia, that means the driver (or drivers) whose negligence caused the accident will be responsible. It also means that you can only recover compensation if your own negligence did not contribute to the accident.
Determining negligence or fault in a multiple vehicle crash is much more complicated than it is in a two-vehicle accident. Investigating an accident involving several cars and trucks requires analyzing twisted wreckage, interviewing witnesses in the vehicles involved and in other nearby vehicles, and sifting through other detailed evidence about the accident. The police will investigate the accident and so will multiple insurance companies. Attorneys for all the victims will also analyze the evidence on behalf of their clients.
When insurance companies deal with potential liability in multiple vehicle accidents, their main goal is to minimize the insurance payout. In Virginia, any contributory negligence on your part will prevent you from recovering from other individuals who were involved. Because of that rule, potentially liable insurance companies will try to avoid responsibility by claiming that your negligence contributed to the accident.
For the contributory negligence rule to apply, your own negligence must be a cause of the accident. Proving causation is an essential part of establishing responsibility for any accident, including those involving multiple vehicles. So, your attorney will want to show that you didn't cause the accident (or contribute to the cause), in addition to demonstrating exactly who did cause the accident.
In any multi-vehicle accident, figuring out who caused the crash is a significant challenge for everyone who is investigating the accident (police, insurance companies, and victims’ attorneys). In reality, those investigating the accident often disagree about whose negligence actually caused the accident. Ultimately, in some cases, that decision is made by a jury when a case goes to trial after a lawsuit is filed.
Issues With Insurance Coverage in Multi-Vehicle Accidents
Another difficult aspect of multi-vehicle collisions related to insurance coverage. When several or more cars and trucks are involved, and there are numerous serious injuries, the insurance coverage for the person who is liable often is insufficient to pay all the victims. Even worse, the at-fault individual may have no insurance coverage at all.
If you have a Virginia auto insurance policy, it includes coverage referred to as uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage (often referred to as UM/UIM). In cases involving drivers with no insurance or inadequate insurance to cover your injuries, your own UM/UIM insurance will come into play.
Making a claim under your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is much more complicated than making a normal claim under your policy. In some situations, it’s even possible that you are covered by UM/UIM in more than one policy. If you are in a situation where UM/UIM coverage is involved, your attorney will address the insurance issues as part of your case.
There can be other insurance issues in multi-vehicle accidents as well. If the at-fault driver was working for an employer, there potentially is a claim under the employer’s liability insurance policy. In addition, your own MedPay coverage (if you have it) and collision insurance may cover medical expenses and property damage. Finally, there are times when it is worthwhile to pursue the personal assets of the at-fault driver, although those situations are fairly rare. At-fault drivers with no or insufficient insurance often have no assets that could be accessed to pay your compensation.
Why You Need An Attorney for Multiple-Vehicle Accident Injuries
If you’re been seriously injured in a multiple vehicle accident — or if you’ve lost a loved one in a multi-vehicle crash — there are several reasons why you should talk with an attorney experienced in handling complicated accident cases.
Most importantly, your attorney is the only one who will investigate the accident with the goal of recovering compensation for you. The insurance companies for the other drivers will be trying to show that you were negligent and caused the accident, so they don’t have to pay you. The police won’t be trying to get compensation for you either. Police reports sometimes aren’t completely accurate, either. But your attorney will do everything he or she possibly can to recover the compensation you deserve.
You need to focus on recovering from your accident. It is difficult and tricky to negotiate with any insurance company. If more than one is involved, which is often the case in a multi-vehicle accident, it's even worse.
Your attorney is used to arguing with insurance companies and will advocate aggressively on your behalf, using negotiating strategies that work. If a settlement is going to be reached, your attorney will make sure that the compensation fairly compensates you for all your injuries and damages.
Another issue involves figuring out all the potential sources for recovering compensation in a multiple vehicle accident. Accomplishing that task requires special knowledge and skill. Your attorney will explore all the possibilities, to make sure you recover as much compensation as possible.
In addition to the other complex issues arising in a multi-vehicle crash, calculating damages in any case involving serious injuries is complicated. When someone else was negligent and caused your severe injuries, you are entitled to more than just reimbursement for medical expenses. You can be compensated for pain and suffering, lost work, future impairment of your earning capacity, and permanent injuries or disability. Your attorney will know how to calculate all the amounts that you are entitled to and then pursue all the potential sources for recovering that compensation.
Talk With an Experienced Virginia Beach Multiple-Vehicle Accident Attorney
If you suffered severe injuries in a multi-vehicle Virginia accident that was another person’s fault — or if you’ve lost a loved one in a multiple vehicle crash, Virginia Beach car accident lawyer Jeff Brooke has the experience and skill to help you. The Jeff Brooke Team is fully committed to helping clients and their families recover the compensation they deserve and dedicated to providing exceptional client service as well. Contact us by phone at (757) 785-0837 or by using our online contact form.
Jeff Brooke is a personal injury attorney devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent and careless actions. The Jeff Brooke Team serves all of southeastern Virginia. The firm helps clients in the Greater Tidewater and Greater Hampton Roads areas, including in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Chesterfield. The Jeff Brooke Team also handles cases in northeastern North Carolina, including the Outer Banks.