Multi-vehicle crashes can prove to be pretty complicated when it gets to establishing who did what in the accident. All details about the drivers and vehicles involved must be gathered and whoever feels they were victims of another driver’s recklessness must provide proof of the same to recover damages.
Usually, the police will assess the facts of the circumstances and give a report detailing the driver behind the chain reaction. However, sometimes it is more than one driver who caused the reaction and that is where things get complicated.
Missouri’s Pure Comparative Negligence System
If you have been involved in a car accident in Missouri, you are subject to a comparative fault system which makes you liable for the part of the accident you caused. The difficult part is determining the exact percentage of the accident that you and each of the other drivers are responsible for.
Imagine a multi-car collision that started with a sedan driver slamming on their brakes causing you to rear-end them, and in the process, your car skidded into the opposite lane causing the driver of an oncoming truck to swerve into the guardrail to their right.
You could be forgiven for thinking the sedan driver will be held liable for all the damages and injuries sustained. Law enforcement will take into account such things as the distance you had kept behind the sedan immediately before the accident, possibility of driving under the influence, and the prospect of you having been distracted by a mobile phone when the accident occurred.
Let’s say all three drivers incurred $100,000 worth of damage each and the liability was found to be 75% for the sedan driver, 25% for you and 0% for the truck driver, how and from whom will each driver seek compensation? According to Missouri’s pure comparative system, the sedan driver will recover $25,000 from you and you will recover $75,000 from them. The truck driver will recover $25,000 from you and $75,000 from the sedan driver since they did not contribute to the accident. In your case, the remaining $25,000 will be covered by your own insurance.
Note that Missouri being a pure comparative negligence state means partly at-fault multi-car crash victims can still recover damages even if they were 99% responsible for the accident.
What to do if you are involved in a multi-vehicular accident in Missouri
Fault determination in crashes involving more than two vehicles can be difficult. Even the police could be wrong and there is a 50-50 chance you would be on the receiving end of an erroneous accident report. For this reason, consider hiring a specialist car accident lawyer to help you gather important information upon which you will build your case. An attorney would also come in handy if the involved parties’ insurance companies fail to reach an agreement and decide to have fault for the accident determined in court.
Multi-car collisions are riddled with information mix-ups, and lack of sufficient evidence could easily see you leave empty-handed or with a tiny compensation when you know you deserve more. The most advisable thing to do after an accident is to gather as much information as you can through pictures and videos; record witness information; seek medical attention, if necessary; and immediately get in touch with an attorney.