Who is Liable in a Multi-Vehicle Accident? Motor vehicle collisions occur with frequency in Ohio, and many of these crashes are multi-vehicle accidents. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, there were a total of 1,244 fatal crashes in Ohio in 2021, which resulted in a total of 1,148 motor vehicle fatalities. Thousands more nonfatal accidents and injuries occur every year. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that more than 60% of all crashes are multi-vehicle accidents. When multi-vehicle accidents occur, they can take many different forms. A multi-vehicle collision can be a two-vehicle crash, or it can involve a pileup accident in which dozens of vehicles are involved in the accident. If you were injured recently in a multi-vehicle accident in Ohio, it is critical to understand how liability works and who may be at fault for your injuries so that you can seek financial compensation for your losses.
In order to understand who can be liable in a multi-vehicle collision and who may be responsible in your specific circumstances, it will be important to learn more about common types of multi-vehicle collisions that occur, commonly responsible parties in multi-vehicle collisions, and how to prove fault and seek compensation. In some multi-vehicle accidents, the injured party who files a claim ultimately may be partially liable for their injuries or for their severity. Yet even in these circumstances, it may still be possible to recover damages under Ohio. The following information can clarify how liability works in a multi-vehicle accident, and how you may be able to seek compensation.
In order to understand issues of liability in a multi-car crash, it is essential to understand what the term multi-vehicle accident means in Ohio. The term multi-vehicle accident can refer to any collision involving multiple motor vehicles. Even a two-car accident may be understood as a multi-vehicle accident, in contrast to single-vehicle accidents. Generally speaking, single-vehicle accidents can occur when a driver’s negligence results in a collision with an object, or when a driver loses control of a vehicle for other means. To be clear, multi-vehicle collisions involve more than one vehicle. Differently, a single-vehicle collision involves only one vehicle.
The term multi-vehicle collision can mean any accident involving two or more cars. However, the term is often used colloquially to refer to accidents that involve three or more vehicles. A common example includes pileup collisions.
There are many different types of multi-vehicle collisions that can occur in Ohio. As we mentioned above, multi-vehicle crashes can involve just two vehicles, or they can involve many vehicles. The following are examples of common multi-vehicle accidents that occur in Ohio and elsewhere:
There are many different causes of multi-vehicle accidents. In many circumstances, driver error is the cause. Yet it is important to keep in mind that there are also other causes of multi-vehicle collisions. The following are some frequent causes of multi-vehicle collisions in Ohio:
Liability for a multi-vehicle accident can be complicated since multiple drivers are usually involved in the collision. Fault or liability for a crash may be attributed to more than one party. In those circumstances, it may be possible for an injured person to sue more than one person or entity. Generally speaking, the following parties are commonly liable for multi-vehicle accidents in Ohio:
To be clear, more than one party could be liable for a multi-vehicle crash. In cases of pileup accidents, multiple car or truck drivers could be partially at fault.
Most forms of liability are based on a theory of negligence. In order to prove liability and to obtain compensation after a multi-vehicle collision, you must be able to prove the elements of a negligence claim. In general, the elements of a negligence claim include the following:
How can you prove the elements of a negligence claim in order to show that the defendant (or defendants, in some cases) is liable? An injured plaintiff in a multi-vehicle collision will show duty of care based on the circumstances of the accident and injury. If another driver’s error caused the injury, it is important to know that motorists owed one another a duty of care the moment they get behind the wheel of a car or truck. As such, it is easy to show that there was a duty of care when a collision results from another motorist’s actions or inaction. A duty of care also attaches in many other circumstances. For example, when you pay a mechanic to repair your vehicle, or when you are lawfully on public or private roads, those parties owe a duty of care.
Proving a breach of the duty of care as a result of negligence will again depend upon the circumstances of the case. Generally speaking, a person is negligent when they act in an unreasonably safe manner, and a reasonable person would believe that their behavior (either through an act or omission) was unreasonable under the circumstances.
Causation will require you to show that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of your injuries. You can prove damages as long as you can show that you suffered losses as a result of the injury.
Proving liability will be critical for winning your case and obtaining compensation. How can you prove fault in a multi-vehicle collision? There are many different ways you could be able to prove liability or prove fault in a crash. The following steps can help:
The aim of determining and proving liability after a multi-car crash is to seek compensation for your losses. How can you seek compensation? In Ohio, you can usually do one of the following:
What will happen if you are also partially liable for your injuries? A plaintiff can be partially liable in various circumstances. For example, you might have been slightly distracted when the accident occurred. Or, for instance, you might have been speeding when the defendant ran a red light. Ohio’s contributory fault law will apply in these circumstances. Under Ohio law, a plaintiff is only barred from recovery if they are 51% or more liable. As long as a plaintiff is 50% or less at fault, the plaintiff can still recover damages. However, if a plaintiff is partially at fault by 50% or less, their damages award will be reduced. Under Ohio law, the damages award will be reduced by the plaintiff’s portion of liability.
For example, imagine you are involved in a multi-car accident and suffer substantial damages. Imagine the court finds in your favor and awards $100,000 in damages, but the court says you are 10% at fault. That damages award would be reduced by 10%, and you would recover $90,000. However, if the court decided you were 51% or more at fault, you could not recover anything.
If you or somebody you love sustained injuries in a multi-car accident, it is important to find out more about proving fault or liability and seeking financial compensation for your injuries. It can be complicated to prove liability in many multi-vehicle collisions, but one of our Hamilton car accident attorneys can assist you. We represent clients throughout Butler County and can speak with you today about the circumstances of your accident and injuries. We can provide you with more information about filing a claim to seek compensation for your losses. Contact the law firm of Kruger & Hodges today for more information about how we can assist you.