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In a multi-vehicle accident, how is your injury claim handled?

On Behalf of | Jan 15, 2021 | Car Accidents

It can happen suddenly, without warning. Another driver crashes into your vehicle, and you are seriously injured. You must seek medical attention immediately. After you’ve been treated, you will need the advice and services of the right Indiana car accident attorney.

Especially in the winter, motorists in Indiana routinely deal with the hazardous conditions – snow, ice, and reduced visibility – that frequently lead to multi-vehicle accidents. Already in 2021, we’ve seen these headlines in Indiana:

  • “Man dead after multi-vehicle crash in Elkhart County” (January 4)
  • “Multi-car accident leaves at least 1 dead on Indy’s east side” (January 10)
  • “Multi-car crash in Howard County shuts down part of Route 32” (January 11)

In 2014, more than forty vehicles were involved in a pile-up on Interstate 94 in LaPorte County. Three people were killed in that accident, and more than two dozen were injured. In 2017, multi-vehicle accidents accounted for more than sixty percent of the fatal traffic accidents in Indiana.

Accidents that involve multiple vehicles have higher injury rates. Liability is also more difficult to determine in multi-vehicle collisions, which makes it more of a challenge to recover the compensation that the injured victim of a negligent driver is entitled to by law.

How Are “Multi-Vehicle” Accidents Defined?

The definition is the only simple aspect of a multi-vehicle accident. It’s a traffic collision that involves at least three vehicles, at least three drivers, and usually, at least three automobile insurance companies.

If passengers were injured in the accident, the legal complications increase. And if at least one vehicle involved in the accident was a commercial vehicle and the driver was “on the clock,” you may expect a case with even more complexity.

Multi-vehicle accidents often occur when one driver follows another vehicle too closely and rear-ends that vehicle, setting off a chain-reaction of rear-end collisions. Poor weather conditions, distracted driving, and speeding are also common factors in multi-vehicle pile-ups.

Each multi-vehicle collision case is different, of course, so every multi-vehicle accident must be closely scrutinized to determine exactly how the collision happened and who was the at-fault driver.

What Steps Should You Take After an Accident?

If you’re involved in a multi-vehicle accident, an Indiana auto accident attorney will offer you plenty of guidance – later – but in the first moments at a crash site, you must try to think clearly, because no lawyer will be at the scene to advise you. Take these steps after a traffic accident:

  • Summon medical help if any injuries have occurred. That’s the highest priority.
  • Even if you feel fine, obtain a medical exam within 24 hours.
  • Call the police. Ask when and how you may obtain a copy of the written accident report.
  • Exchange personal and insurance contact details with the other drivers.
  • Take photographs. Ask any eyewitnesses for their names and contact details.

How Are Multi-Vehicle Accidents Investigated?

To learn what occurred and who was at-fault, accident reconstruction experts use physics, math, and computers to develop a moment-by-moment account of what transpired immediately before and during a multi-vehicle crash. That account will often prove which driver was at-fault.

In any vehicle collision, but particularly in multiple-vehicle accidents, these are the questions that must be answered:

  • Were any of the drivers intoxicated or unlicensed?
  • Did poor road conditions or bad weather have any role in the accident?
  • Did a defective vehicle or vehicle part have any role in the accident?

How Are Multi-Vehicle Injury Claims Usually Resolved?

You do not have to speak with an at-fault driver’s insurance company, and you shouldn’t. Do not sign any insurance forms or documents, make any statements, or begin negotiating on your own with an insurance company. Refer the company’s questions and inquiries to your lawyer.

Once the at-fault driver in a multi-vehicle accident has been identified, your Indiana car accident lawyer can begin negotiating on your behalf with that driver’s auto insurance company for a fair and just settlement of your personal injury claim.

That’s how the majority of personal injury cases arising from multi-vehicle accidents are resolved in Indiana.

However, when there’s a dispute regarding fault, or when there are multiple defendants – that is, when you are suing multiple parties because they each had a share of the fault – these cases can be difficult to settle.

For example, if a large truck was involved in your multi-vehicle accident, the case becomes more complicated because a trucking company, leasing company, or freight company may have been negligent, may have a share of the liability for the accident, and may be named as a defendant.

When Should You Speak to an Attorney?

If you are injured in a multi-vehicle accident, Indiana’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases gives you two years to take legal action. Don’t wait two years – or even two weeks. Schedule a legal consultation as soon as a medical provider confirms that you’ve been injured.

If you wait two years and scramble to file a personal injury claim at the last minute, it will be much more difficult for you to prevail with that claim. Your attorney needs to examine the evidence while it’s fresh and speak to the witnesses before their memories start to fade.

What Will an Attorney Do on Your Behalf?

If you’re injured in a multi-vehicle accident in Indiana, you’ll need to have a skilled and experienced negotiator working on your behalf. You must have the advice and services of an attorney who routinely and successfully resolves the most complicated personal injury claims.

After you’ve been examined and treated by a medical professional, promptly schedule a meeting to discuss your case with an Indiana car accident attorney. Your attorney will explain your rights and will recommend the best way to proceed – which may be filing a personal injury lawsuit.

If you’re not sure which driver was at-fault, or if you’re not sure whether you qualify to file a personal injury lawsuit, take advantage of the free first consultation offered by an Indiana injury lawyer. It’s your chance to learn where you stand legally and how the law applies in your case.

If you file a lawsuit, you pay no lawyer’s fee unless and until your lawyer recovers compensation on your behalf. A lawyer will help, but it’s up to you to take the first step, exercise your rights, and contact a lawyer as soon as possible after you’ve been injured in a multi-vehicle accident.