Who Hit Who?
It can often be difficult to tell who caused a car accident. This is especially true when the crash involved more than two vehicles. To determine who caused an accident, the accident victim’s lawyer might need to investigate the crash by hiring an accident reconstructionist, speaking with a responding police officer, or viewing eyewitness reports to find out who was at fault.
In cases where a car accident resulted from someone else’s negligence, the accident victim can bring a claim or file a lawsuit in court for damages. In most instances, the accident victim will file their claim with the responsible party’s insurance company.
If you suffered injuries in a car crash that resulted from negligence, you are not alone. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can investigate your accident and determine your eligibility for filing a claim.
If you qualify, your lawyer can assist you throughout every step of the claims-filing and litigation processes. Your lawyer will do everything they possibly can to help you recover the maximum amount of compensation that you deserve to receive for your injuries.
Car Accidents Where Determining Fault is Difficult
In some car accident cases, it is difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain who caused the crash. This is especially true in chain-reaction rear-end collisions and in phantom vehicle accidents.
A chain-reaction collision typically starts when the rearmost driver is negligent. They might not pay attention to the road or may consume too much alcohol or drugs. When the at-fault driver negligently causes their vehicle to strike the back of another vehicle, the force is sometimes so great that it causes a chain reaction, where numerous other drivers and their passengers suffer injuries.
Chain-reaction collisions can involve as few as three or significantly more vehicles, depending upon the force of the initial impact. In these accidents, the rear driver is typically at fault. However, in some instances, other drivers may take evasive measures that cause or contribute to the chain-reaction collision. In that instance, the injured accident victim might name numerous drivers as defendants in any personal injury lawsuit they later file.
It can also be difficult to determine the at-fault driver’s identity in a phantom vehicle accident case. In a phantom vehicle crash, the at-fault driver flees the scene before anyone can obtain a license number or other identifying information. In that instance, the injured accident victim might need to turn to their insurance company and file an uninsured motorist (UM) claim for benefits. When an accident victim files a UM claim, their insurance company steps into the at-fault driver’s shoes, so to speak, and provides the necessary insurance coverage.
Adverse traffic and weather conditions can also make it difficult to determine who hit who and which driver caused the subject accident. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer in your area can retain the necessary experts to determine how a crash occurred and who was responsible. Your lawyer can then bring a personal injury claim or file a lawsuit against all potentially responsible individuals for your car accident.
Investigating Your Car Crash
In car accident legal claims, the accident victim has the sole legal burden of proof. Therefore, they must establish all of the elements of their claim to be eligible for monetary compensation. An accident victim must demonstrate that someone else, such as another driver, acted unreasonably under the circumstances—and that their accident happened as a result. Moreover, they must demonstrate that they suffered at least one injury in the car crash and that their injury directly resulted from the accident.
When it comes to proving the liability element of their claim, difficulties sometimes arise—especially in the context of rear-end crashes and phantom vehicle accident cases. In those instances, the accident victim’s lawyer might need assistance in determining who or what caused the crash.
To obtain this information, the accident victim’s lawyer can:
- Review the available police report and speak with the responding officer – After many car accidents, the police officer will prepare a report detailing what happened and who likely caused the crash. The report may also indicate whether or not the officer issued a citation and, if so, for what. In some instances, the accident victim’s lawyer might need to subpoena the police officer to testify at trial, authenticate their police report, and determine who, in the officer’s opinion, caused the crash.
- Speak with eyewitnesses to the accident – In some cases, eyewitnesses to the car accident will prepare a written statement detailing what they observed and who, in their opinion, caused the crash. Eyewitnesses can also testify in court about the relative speeds of the vehicles involved, driving maneuvers, and whether or not a driver failed to yield the right-of-way, such as by running a red traffic light or stop sign, before the accident.
- Hire an accident reconstructionist – In some complex accident cases, an accident victim’s lawyer might need to hire an accident reconstructionist who can review police reports, speak with witnesses, and piece together how the motor vehicle crashes occurred. An accident reconstruction expert can also testify at a jury trial and state their opinions supporting the accident victim’s liability claim.
If you suffered injuries in a recent car crash, your lawyer can help you prove the legal elements of your case, including the fault element. Your lawyer will then work to get you a settlement and compensation for everything you endured following your car crash.
Why Do Drivers Hit Other Vehicles?
Car crashes happen for many reasons, but the most common cause is driver error. Drivers are negligent when they do not act reasonably under the circumstances. For example, they may violate traffic regulations, engage in distracted driving, or aggressively operate their vehicles.
Finally, a driver behaves negligently when they operate their vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Road rule violations – Drivers are negligent when they violate the law and operate their vehicles in an unsafe manner. Sometimes, the at-fault driver might fail to yield the right-of-way at a traffic intersection, when merging onto a highway, or when switching lanes. The at-fault driver may also fail to use a turn signal at the appropriate time or grossly exceed the speed limit, causing a serious accident.
- Distracted driving – A driver is distracted when they do not watch the road. Many electronic devices in a vehicle can prove distracting for a driver, including GPS devices, tablets, and cell phones. For example, a driver might focus on sending a text message or programming a GPS device rather than driving. Loud music playing in the car and disruptive children in the back seat can also distract the driver. A distracted driver who turns their head away from the road for a second or two can easily—and inadvertently—cause a serious accident.
- Aggressive driving – Aggressive drivers sometimes exhibit characteristics of road rage. An aggressive driver might become upset when other drivers are not traveling fast enough for their liking. In response, the driver may weave in and out of traffic aggressively without using a turn signal, or tailgate the vehicle in front of them. However, if traffic comes to an abrupt stop, the enraged driver might cause a serious rear-end collision that catches the front vehicle driver off guard.
- Intoxicated driving – A driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent is intoxicated under the law. Commercial vehicle drivers, including tractor-trailer operators, and minors under 21 years of age, must follow stricter standards. However, a driver need not necessarily be fully intoxicated to create a hazard for other drivers. Alcohol is a depressant and can slow down the brain’s ability to function properly. Consequently, a driver suffering from alcohol impairment might experience delayed reaction time, blurred vision, and other symptoms that prevent them from driving safely.
If you suffered injuries in a car crash that resulted from driver negligence, you have legal options. A car accident lawyer can explore those options and help you decide on the best course of action.
Potential Damages in Car Accident Cases
All car accident cases are different, and not all accident victims are eligible to recover the same damages.
The monetary compensation that a victim recovers in their car accident case depends on:
- The extent of the accident victim’s injuries—including whether or not those injuries are permanent, according to a qualified medical provider.
- The length of an accident victim’s medical treatment and the pain and suffering that they endured
- The type of accident that occurred and the property damage that resulted
The injuries that a car accident victim suffers depend on the force of the impact and how their body moves in the vehicle in the collision. Some car crashes are so forceful that they cause the accident victim’s body to move back and forth inside their vehicle and even strike something in the vehicle, such as the headrest, door frame, window, or steering wheel.
Common accident-related injuries include traumatic brain damage, soft tissue injuries, fractures, internal injuries, spinal cord damage, and paralysis.
Many accident victims require extensive medical treatment after their accident and need to go to their local emergency room or urgent care center. They might also need to attend regular medical appointments in the weeks and months following their accident. Finally, they may need to undergo a medical procedure for their injuries or attend physical therapy sessions to make a full recovery.
Although related medical expenses are reimbursable by the government, other damages are compensable via a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
A car accident victim can recover compensation for:
- Lost wages, if they need to miss time from work to recover from and undergo treatment for their injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Humiliation, such as from accident-related scars
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
- Loss of family support and spousal consortium
An experienced car accident lawyer can help you pursue the damages you deserve via settlement or personal injury litigation.
Deadline to File a Car Accident Lawsuit
Car accident victims only have a limited time to file a lawsuit for damages in their case. For example, in Alberta, accident victims must file their lawsuit within two years of the accident date. Otherwise, they will not be eligible to recover damages for their injuries and the other consequences of their accident.
Given this short timeframe, you should immediately retain a knowledgeable car accident lawyer to represent you throughout your case. Your lawyer can file a prompt lawsuit on your behalf within the statute of limitations. Your lawyer can then continue settlement negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf to pursue the compensation you deserve for your accident-related injuries.
Two years might seem like a long time, but your lawyer needs as much time as possible to investigate your accident. This is especially true if it is unclear who hit who. Give your legal team time to identify liable parties and build a case to best seek the total compensation you deserve.
Speak With a Car Accident Lawyer Today
Following some car accidents, it can be difficult to determine who was responsible. In some instances, two or more individuals might be liable for the accident.
If you suffered injuries in a car crash that someone else caused, always speak with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can immediately investigate the circumstances of your accident and determine if you’re eligible to file a claim for damages. If so, your lawyer can help you file the claim or lawsuit, represent you at all court hearings, and help you pursue the full amount of damages you deserve for your accident-related injuries. Contact a lawyer today to get your consultation.