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Houston Multi-Vehicle Accident Lawyer

In 2018, the state of Texas reported 1,802 fatalities resulting from multi-car collisions, the highest in the entire nation for that year.1 These types of crashes cause damage to the vehicles involved and result in extensive injury, as well as complexity in terms of liability. If you or someone you know was involved in a multi-vehicle crash, read on for important information.

What Is a Multi-Vehicle Accident and How Do They Occur?

Whether it’s referred to as a multi-car pileup, a chain reaction crash, or a multiple vehicle accident, they all mean the same thing: an accident involving three or more vehicles. These kinds of accidents have many causes, which adds to their legal complexity.

Weather is a common cause; the failure to drive according to weather conditions. As well, failure to heed police warnings about risky road conditions can also cause multi-vehicle accidents. Areas of construction or road maintenance can reduce the available space drivers have to swerve or otherwise avoid a collision, which can cause multi-car accidents.

Drivers who neglect to put adequate distance between themselves and the vehicle ahead of them can cause these accidents. Speeding is another cause, as it prevents drivers from being able to stop quickly. Distracted and intoxicated driving are two other common causes.

Can These Crashes Be Avoided or Prevented?

Yes, it is possible to avoid or prevent becoming involved in a pileup. Driving according to road and weather conditions and following officials’ advice to stay off the road can reduce your risk.

Leaving enough room between you and other vehicles is important at all times, but especially when visibility is low or you’re driving in areas of construction. Where these conditions exist, it can help to increase your vehicle’s distance even further.

Driving without the distraction of a cell phone, food, drowsiness, or other passengers can also help you avoid getting into an accident. Turn off your phone or pull over when you need to call, text, or email. Don’t eat while driving or tired; you can pull over in both cases. Limit the number of passengers in your vehicle or ask them to help you get everyone to your destination safely by being quieter when in your vehicle.

Unfortunately, the risk remains that even the best and most alert drivers can become involved in an accident with other vehicles, and be unable to avoid going to court.

What to Do Following an Accident with Other Vehicles

After being involved in this type of accident, you’ll want to make sure that you and your passengers are free of injury. Try to stay in your vehicle until you can be fairly certain that the accident is over, and then get out and check for injuries in the other vehicles.

When emergency workers arrive, be sure to get examined. Once you’ve been cleared of any immediate injury, you’ll want to try to get as much information as possible about the accident.

Start by writing down your memories of what just happened. This should include the weather and road conditions at the time and anything you may have noticed about the other drivers on the road with you at the time the accident occurred. Get as many photos as you can of the accident scene, including photos of the damage to your vehicle from multiple angles.

Next, you’ll want to ensure that the police have been called and that you’ve collected insurance information from the other drivers and anyone who may have witnessed the crash. Calling an auto accident attorney is the next step to take.

Who Is At Fault in a Multi-Car Accident?

One aspect of the complexity of multi-vehicle crashes is something called timelapse, or the time between when the accident started and when your vehicle collided with another. The more time there is between these two points, says Texas law, the higher the probability you can be at fault.

The order of impact is another factor that can add complexity to these cases. Police speak with involved drivers and ask for their version of what happened. They also ask about the number of impacts felt by a particular driver. From these answers, it can be determined which vehicle made the first impact, second, third, and so on.

However, the complexity doesn’t end there. Testimony from eyewitnesses and those involved in an accident isn’t enough to determine fault. To do this effectively, specialized knowledge about reconstructing accidents is needed.

Comparative Fault

In Texas, courts are allowed to hold all of the parties involved in multi-vehicle crashes responsible for their percentage of fault via comparative fault law. When this happens, the percentage for which each person is at fault is deducted from the amount of compensation they are awarded for physical and property damage.

As well, anyone that’s found more than 50 percent responsible for a multi-vehicle crash is prohibited from receiving any compensation at all.

Why You Should Never Accept an Offer to Settle

If someone else caused all or part of a multi-vehicle collision, you may have gotten a call from their insurance company, which may have tried to offer you a settlement in lieu of going to court.

Don’t be fooled: They don’t want to pay you enough for your injuries and other damages. They simply want to make it as easy as possible on themselves. Usually, victims who accept these kinds of settlements are left with nothing but questions about how they’re going to continue to pay their bills once the money runs out.

It is for all of the reasons above that your best chance at compensation is with an attorney experienced in multi-vehicle accident cases.

Expert Witness Testimony Matters

When you’ve been involved in a multi-vehicle collision, getting witness statements and a police report simply isn’t enough. There also has to be a firm understanding of the law surrounding these crashes, as well as the ability to use experience to find qualified expert witnesses to support and validate your injury claims.

There are many benefits surrounding the information an expert witness can provide. First of all, only the experts who can demonstrate they have specialized knowledge, and who can base their testimony on facts or data, will have useful testimony. As well, any testimony from an expert witness must come from practices and principles that are reliable and be accurately applied to the facts of the case to be considered admissible.

How Expert Witnesses Strengthen Your Case

Not only does an expert witness provide specialized knowledge, but they can also support your case by providing clear explanations regarding evidence. Juries need this clarity to make an informed decision.

Expert witnesses can also strengthen your case by establishing not only that the other parties involved had a duty of care to you, but that they breached that duty. Finally, they can provide the element of impartiality—something that is far easier for a judge and jury to accept.

You’ll still need an attorney with enough experience to know when an expert witness will be valuable to your case’s outcome and who will be able to locate more than one witness if necessary so that those with the most experience can be asked to support your case.

Where to Find the Right Kind of Experience

If you’ve been involved in a multi-car pileup and are wondering what to do after a car accident injury, the answer is to find an attorney with experience in these kinds of complicated cases.

The lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. have a combined 100 years of experience in multi-vehicle accidents, and they know how to navigate these complicated cases to help you get the compensation you need and deserve. Don’t wait. Claim your free consultation today by calling 713-364-0723, or visit us online.

Source:

  1. https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/state-by-state#crash-types

 

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Jonathan S. Harris and Matthew D. Shaffer are Board Certified in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.  Other attorneys are not board certified.  Principal office is located in Houston, Texas.