The aftermath of multi-car collisions is stressful at best, and often devastating for everyone involved.
Sadly, such collisions are often fatal. That may lead to actions as serious as wrongful death, with damages running well into six or even seven figures.
Moreover, there’s often a web of liability that several drivers, insurers, and attorneys are all attempting to navigate.
If you’ve had the misfortune of playing any role in a large collision, then your first and most important step is to secure expert legal representation.
Many factors can and do contribute to collisions between several vehicles. Some are as commonplace as speeding or tailgating on a busy highway. Others are as unusual as freak sandstorms or sudden fog.
The most serious and dramatic multi-car accidents tend to be on freeways. High speeds amplify driving errors, adverse weather, and flaws in the road. Too often, this results in dozens of injuries at once—some of them potentially fatal.
Even though freeway pile-ups are the most newsworthy, many multi-car crashes also happen at lower speeds on highways or even city streets. Legally, these can be difficult to disentangle. The complexity of urban driving creates distractions and split-second decisions that may affect liability.
In any case, the more vehicles involved, the more difficult it is to assign legal fault. Just reconstructing the events of large pile-ups can take months—if it’s even possible to reach a conclusion. Weather or driving behavior is usually involved, but most large and fatal crashes follow several interconnected events.
This ambiguity may create grounds for stiff and unanticipated claims against you.
In Washington, a wrongful death is one “caused by the wrongful act, neglect, or default of another person.” Car accidents are far from the only cause, of course, although they’re one of the most common.
The statute of limitations is generally three years. Even if no suit has been filed yet, that doesn’t mean you won’t face one in the future. In case worse comes to worst, you’ll be glad to have an experienced and effective legal team fighting on your behalf.
Washington observes pure comparative negligence. That means your liability is proportionate to the role the court believes you played in the collision, be it 1% or 100%.
Consequently, any contribution to a collision can expose you to liability. For instance, if the deceased were awarded $1,000,000 for wrongful death, and you were found just 5% at fault, then your own liability would be $5,000. Even if others played a much larger role, your own liability would remain on the table.
That’s also partly because Washington has discarded the doctrine of last clear chance.
Under that doctrine, you might have been liable for less (or no) money if the claimant had the last opportunity—the “last clear chance”—to avoid the collision, but neglected to do so. That no longer applies. If another motorist failed to avoid the collision, and tragically died as a result, their representatives may still claim wrongful death.
Remember: if dashcam footage isn’t available, then it’s even more difficult—and critical—to determine the roles of other parties and defend yourself against questionable claims.
Multi-car collisions are often too complicated for insurers to settle. Even without any fatalities, your situation is likely to end up in court, with attorneys on all sides.
We’re here to help you get the compensation you rightly deserve, without bearing unjust blame for a complex, ambiguous event.
While there’s no turning back the clock, it is within your power to work with an experienced attorney. After representing hundreds of people involved in car accidents like yours, we’ve built a track record of uncovering the real role of all parties.
If you were involved in any complex collision—especially a fatal one—then you owe it to yourself to consult a team with a history of successfully fighting for fairness.