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How is Fault Determined If There Are Multiple Vehicles Involved in an Accident?

December 19, 2019

In a vehicle accident that involves only one or two vehicles, it is pretty simple to determine who was at fault. However, in a multi-car pileup, it is not always clear who was ultimately or partially responsible. 

Determining At-Fault Driver or Drivers

Every motorist in Indiana is expected to exercise a reasonable “duty of care” with regard to traffic laws and defensive driving.  

In some cases, expectations of driver responsibility can be higher. For example, drivers with limitations that could impair driving are expected to compensate for those limitations or not drive at all. Similarly, car drivers are expected to be extremely vigilant when looking out for pedestrians and motorcyclists, due to the fact that that pedestrians or motorcyclists may be harder to see and are less protected when involved in a car accident. Lastly, commercial truck drivers are expected to exercise even greater care since their larger vehicles pose a greater risk of injury in the event of an accident. 

After a multi-car accident, any driver(s) discovered to have been negligent may be faulted for the accident. Police officers that respond to the scene typically examine damage to vehicles and the area where the accident occurred. They will also take statements from anyone involved or who witnessed the accident.

In the state of Indiana, more than one driver can be faulted for the accident. Particularly in a multi-car pileup, there are sometimes a few drivers who were not exercising an appropriate level of care to prevent the accident.

Indiana Is a Comparative Negligence State

What is Comparative Negligence?

In the event that more than one driver is faulted for the accident, Indiana applies fault on a sliding scale, meaning that they assign each at fault driver a percentage of negligence. For example, Driver A was deemed 50% at fault, while Drivers B and C are deemed 20% and 30% at fault respectively. 

If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident that involved multiple vehicles and found at fault for less than 50%, you should consider filing a personal injury claim against the other drivers.

Insurance Liability vs. Negligence in a Personal Injury Lawsuit

In most situations, an Indiana police report names the at fault driver (or drivers), files a report, and each at fault party’s insurance assumes their percentage of liability. When a driver’s insurance company accepts liability for the accident, then they agree to pay for damages according to the driver’s policy stipulations.

If you or someone you know was injured in an accident, and the other driver’s insurance has claimed liability, insurance claim limits may keep you from receiving full compensation for your medical bills. Additionally, if there were lost wages and other damages, the at-fault driver’s insurance may not be set up to pay those bills either.

In that case, you may be eligible to seek compensation for those bills and damages in a personal injury lawsuit. Typically, once the at fault party (or parties) have been named, the same fault is applied in the courtroom. This is provided, of course, that you and your attorney are able to demonstrate that your injuries and damages are directly linked to the accident.

However, there are cases where a police report faults one driver, and the insurance adjusters attempt to fault another driver instead. Insurance companies will conduct their own investigation and may discover things that they believe the police missed. It is important that you follow-up with the police report that was filed after your accident, and that you provide as much evidence as possible to your own insurance company to prove that the other driver was at fault.

For more information about how an Indiana attorney can help you with your motor vehicle accident case, contact Stewart & Stewart Attorneys at 800-333-3529 or visit our website.