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We have Spanish, French, and Farsi speaking translators available for our clients upon request.

Proving Liability in Multi-Vehicle Accidents in Maryland

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What Does it Take to Prove Fault in an Accident Involving Multiple Vehicles?

There’s no question that trying to file damages in a case where multiple vehicles were involved in an accident is complex. This is particularly true when more than one driver may be partially at fault for the accident. For example, someone stops suddenly, and the car behind them rear-ends them. The second car is often considered at fault because they shouldn’t have followed so closely that they couldn’t stop before hitting the first car. But there may be other cars that crash into the first two. Some of those drivers may have been speeding or using their phones while driving and didn’t see the pileup until it was too late. That means multiple people may be at fault.

There are similar scenarios where one car stops suddenly, but the first two or three cars behind them are able to stop without crashing. Then, the fourth or fifth car crashes into the one in front of it, sending that car into the next car in line. In those cases, it’s likely that the fourth or fifth car–the first one to hit another car–would be at fault.

Multi-vehicle crashes in intersections are also common. The fault depends on the specifics of the accident, such as if there were stoplights or stop signs, if any of the drivers were distracted or impaired, etc.

The first thing anyone involved in a multi-vehicle accident should do is call the police to have them file a report. The police will likely interview everyone involved in the accident, and the report may indicate where some or all of the fault exists. It’s important to note that when speaking with the police, stay away from statements that might indicate you’re taking some of the blame. Even a simple “I’m sorry this happened” could indicate some fault, even if it wasn’t meant that way. Stick to descriptions of what happened without any commentary.

Once the police have been notified, it’s time to reach out to an experienced car accident attorney, especially if you’ve been injured. These are complicated cases. There may need to be interviews with eyewitnesses as well as those involved in the accident. If there are security cameras on homes or businesses nearby, requesting the footage to provide evidence might be necessary. In some cases, experts who can re-create accident sites may be called in to help determine the fault. There’s a lot at stake in determining liability because of Maryland’s negligence laws (see below).

What is Maryland’s Contributory Negligence Law?

States across the U.S. have different ways of handling contributory or comparative negligence, which can make a significant difference in whether or not the injured party is able to receive (or even claim) damages for their injuries. These are the three types of negligence used across the U.S. Each state uses one.

  • Pure comparative negligence. This says that the injured person can be deemed up to 99% at fault for the accident and still receive 1% in damages. For example, if someone is found 90% at fault for an accident and is awarded $10,000 in damages, they’d receive only $1,000.
  • Modified comparative negligence. This says that if the injured person is either 50% or 51% (depending on the state) at fault, they can’t file for damages. If they’re below the 50% or 51% threshold, they can receive damages, which are reduced by the percentage of fault.
  • Contributory negligence. This says that if the injured person is even 1% at fault for the accident, they’re entirely ineligible to file for or receive any damages.

Contributory negligence is a fairly harsh approach used in only a handful of states–and Maryland is one of them. That’s a primary reason that determining fault in a multi-vehicle accident is critical to pursuing claims, and it’s vital that the injured party not be found at all at fault. If you’ve been injured in a multi-vehicle accident, it’s crucial that you work with an experienced car accident attorney who will work hard to prove you had no fault in the crash and are eligible to make claims.

What Should I Do if I Was Injured in a Hit and Run Traffic Accident in Maryland?

Even if you think the injuries were mild, you should see a medical professional as soon as possible. There are injuries that either don’t present symptoms right away or the symptoms are mild, but they can be severe injuries and worsen if left untreated. Another reason to seek medical care immediately is that if you don’t, the party you’re seeking damages from may try to claim that the injury happened at a later time because you didn’t see a doctor after the accident.

Call Tehrani Law, LLC, as soon as possible at 301-973-6510 to request a free consultation. We can walk you through the specifics of your case to determine what the best approach might be.

Something you shouldn’t do: Have communication with anyone else involved in the accident, including their attorneys or insurance representatives. Because of Maryland’s contributory negligence law, everyone else has a strong interest in finding a reason to put blame on the injured person so they can’t file for damages. Anything you say might be interpreted through that lens.

Another tactic they might take is to try to convince you to accept a much lower settlement than you might otherwise receive. Don’t respond or sign any paperwork; just forward the communications to your attorney.

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