Multi-car accidents, commonly referred to as pile-ups, involve three or more vehicles. Determining liability in pile-ups can be challenging because more than one party may be at fault, and each at-fault party may have different degrees of responsibility in the accident.
Read on to learn the steps to follow if you are involved in a pile-up in Indiana and how to ensure you get the highest possible compensation for your damages.
How Fault is Determined in Indiana
Following Indiana Code (34-51-2-7 and 34-51-2-8), the state uses the modified comparative negligence principle to determine liability in personal injury cases, including auto accidents.
This principle, better known as the “51% rule,” states that if any party in an accident is found to be over 50% at fault, they may not claim compensation for the damages they suffered.
Additionally, while parties determined to be 50% at fault or less may seek compensation for their injuries, the amount they receive is reduced proportionally to their percentage of responsibility.
If you are injured in a multi-vehicle pile-up, multiple parties may be liable for your injuries, meaning each may need to pay compensation according to the amount of fault they were assigned. To keep your degree of assigned fault low or zero and maximize your settlement, speak with a qualified Indiana car accident attorney as soon as possible.
Causes of Pile-Up Accidents
While many factors can create a multi-vehicle accident, some of the most common include:
- Poor weather conditions, such as fog reducing visibility or rain and wet roads increasing necessary braking distances
- Distracted driving, resulting in late braking or failure to brake ending in a collision
- Drivers following a vehicle ahead too closely, resulting in a rear-end collision
- Speeding and driving above the speed limit, which decreases reaction time and increase necessary braking distances and so increases the likelihood of a crash if traffic suddenly slows or stops
- Driving under the influence, which reduces the driver’s reaction times and impairs their judgment
How to Determine Liability in a Multi-Vehicle Pileup
The more parties involved in a multi-vehicle pile-up, the more challenging and contentious it becomes to make sense of the accident and determine who is at fault and to what degree. One or multiple drivers may be at fault for each other’s injuries.
For example, in a five-car pileup, the first driver may be responsible for injuries to the second and third drivers but not the fourth and the fifth. The second driver may also be partially liable for the third driver’s injuries but not any of the others. One driver may not be at fault for any injuries, while multiple drivers can also be at fault for one person’s injuries.
Regardless of the number of drivers involved, it is critical not to go at it alone when seeking your fair compensation. If you are involved in a multi-vehicle accident, remember these crucial steps:
- Call 911 as soon as you can safely report the accident.
- Do not make statements admitting fault or implying that you feel fine. Doing so can be used against you by the at-fault parties’ insurance companies to reduce your compensation.
- If you are injured, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you don’t believe you were seriously hurt, do not refuse medical help if you are offered any.
- Get the contact information of as many drivers involved in the pile-up as possible.
- Contact a team of experienced Indiana auto crash lawyers to help you build your case and represent your interests in a court of law.
Evidence You’ll Need
Gathering proper evidence at the accident scene can help reduce or absolve your assigned fault percentage and determine which parties in the collision were at fault for your injuries. Critical pieces of evidence you can get include:
- Police reports
Even in relatively minor accidents with few or no injuries, a police report is vital because it represents a perspective of the accident from a trusted, neutral entity. In Indiana, you can obtain a copy of an accident police report by contacting the local police precinct or the Indiana State Police.
- Witness statements and contact information
If pedestrians, nearby property owners, or other passers-by have witnessed the crash, ask for statements from as many of them as possible, alongside contact information such as phone numbers or e-mail addresses. They can strengthen your claim by providing additional evidence and points of view of the scene.
- Photo and video footage
Photos or video recordings of the accident as it happened, such as dash cam footage, security cameras, or recordings from the sidewalk, can provide additional evidence and help determine liability in a multi-vehicle pileup.
You can also take pictures after the fact to document the accident scene, such as pictures of the road, your vehicle, and your injuries. Your lawyer can use this material to obtain additional context and better support a compensation claim.
An experienced auto accident lawyer can also help compile additional evidence such as testimony from expert witnesses and reconstructions of the accident.
Injured in a Pile-Up? Schedule Your Free Consult with Wagner Reese
Wagner Reese has over 150 years of combined legal experience in auto accidents and numerous other personal injury cases.
Our team has the expertise, resources, and legal knowledge to help you navigate the complexity of a multi-vehicle crash, determine who is at fault, and get maximum compensation from all responsible parties. Contact us today for a free consultation.