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Determining Liability After a Multi-Car Accident

The Law Office of Joel M. Bacher Feb. 5, 2020

The largest multi-vehicle accident involved 194 vehicles and was two miles long. New Jersey residents may never be involved in something like that, but they may nonetheless be in a crash involving three or four drivers, and in such cases, it’s important to know what can be involved when determining liability.

First of all, one must be familiar with the legal concept of negligence, or the failure of someone, be it a driver or a property owner, to exercise reasonable care toward others. In multi-vehicle accidents, more than one driver may turn out to have been negligent. For example, two drivers who are speeding or tailgating may contribute to the injuries and vehicle damage that the driver in front of them incurs.

Let’s say, though, that the driver in the middle is rear-ended by someone who was clearly negligent, and the blameless driver is forced into the vehicle in front. Obviously, only the driver who came first in that chain reaction can be held responsible. He or she will not be entirely at fault if, for instance, the driver in front was not wearing a seatbelt.

Proving negligence means bringing together evidence, starting with the police report, eyewitness testimony and findings at the crash site. Phone records may be obtained if a driver was calling or texting.

New Jersey being a no-fault state, those who are in an auto accident must first file with their own auto insurance company. Third-party insurance claims are reserved for those who have incurred a severe injury or disability, so victims may want a lawyer to evaluate their case. The statute of limitations is two years from the date of the crash. With legal representation, victims might be able to achieve a fair settlement covering their medical bills, lost wages and more.