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Identifying Fault in a Multi-Car Accident

The more vehicles that are involved in a car accident, the more difficult it can be to figure out who caused what damage. But figuring out who is at fault is important in a state like Mississippi, where the amount of money you can recover for accident-related injuries is directly tied to accident responsibility.

At Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman, we help passengers injured in multi-car accidents get the compensation they deserve. During our decades in practice, we have recovered millions of dollars for our clients in Shelby County, Tennessee, and Desoto and Tate counties in Mississippi.

Mississippi Is A Comparative Fault State

If you have suffered injuries in a multi-car accident, you should not hesitate to seek compensation. Under Mississippi law, you can get paid for the harm you have endured even if the accident was partially your fault.

Mississippi is a comparative fault state, which means even if you are 99 percent liable for the accident and the other driver is one percent liable, you can still recover damages. However, the amount of money you can receive will be reduced based on your responsibility for the accident.

Here’s an example to show how this works. Say you are involved in an accident and suffer $100,000 in damages — you have $20,000 in medical expenses, you lose $10,000 because you have to miss work, total your $30,000 car, and get awarded $40,000 in pain and suffering because the injuries suffered were particularly traumatic. You can only get the full $100,000 if you in no way caused the accident. If, however, the evidence shows you were 30 percent at fault for the accident because you were speeding, your $100,000 will be reduced by 30 percent to $70,000.

Doing the math is the easy part of apportioning damages. The hard part is figuring out who is responsible for causing the accident in the first place, and what other factors contributed to its severity. It can be very difficult to determine who is responsible, especially in a multi-car pile-up.

How Is Fault Determined?

There are a few factors insurance companies, judges, and juries look at when trying to figure out who is at fault following a multi-car accident.

The first is whether any laws were broken at the time of the accident. An accident victim who was violating traffic laws at the time of the accident is almost always considered partially at fault. Even if the violation didn’t cause the accident, it might have made it worse than it otherwise would have been.

The next factor to consider is the position of the cars involved. In a chain-reaction accident or a multi-car pile-up, it is often the first drivers that hit one another that are found most at fault. Maybe they were following too closely, or simply not paying attention when the cars in front of them slowed down. Other drivers involved in the accident may be considered less at fault if it would have been impossible for them to avoid the accident.

In a multi-car accident, it is also important to consider the timing of the accident. The first few cars to hit one another might not have been able to avoid doing so, but other vehicles that come upon the accident and end up getting involved because they are going too fast to stop or rubbernecking can also be considered at fault.

Finally, what happens after the accident occurs is important. Many car accident injuries can worsen if they are not treated promptly or properly. It is critical that anyone involved in an accident seek medical treatment, and follow their doctor’s orders. Injured parties will see their compensation reduced if it is shown that they would not be suffering as badly if they had gotten proper medical care.

The Lawyers That Listen

Figuring out which parties are responsible for the injuries caused by a multi-car accident is not an easy task, but the Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman team is up to the challenge. We have decades of experience gathering the evidence needed to maximize our clients’ compensation.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a multi-car accident in Shelby County, Tennessee; Desoto, Marshall, Tunica or Tate counties in Mississippi; or the surrounding area, please contact us to schedule an initial consultation. We are ready to hear your story and help you get the compensation you deserve.

About the Author
Jefferson D. Gilder is a Partner at Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman and was admitted to the Mississippi and Tennessee Bars in 1990. Mr. Gilder is admitted to practice in all courts in Mississippi and Tennessee including Federal Court, the Fifth and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Gilder's areas of practice include personal injury, criminal, medical malpractice, civil rights, and product liability. Mr. Gilder spent his first ten years as an attorney practicing with his father, Robert G. Gilder, at Gilder Law Firm in Southaven, Mississippi before forming Gilder, Howell & Assoc., P.A. with Jamie W. Howell, Jr. in June of 2000. This firm although as another legal entity has now combined their resources and experience with Chatham – Pittman, to form Chatham Gilder Howell Pittman. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Jefferson through our contact page.