Who Is at Fault When a Tractor-Trailer Is Involved in a Multi-Car Pileup?

semi-trucks and other vehicles on a rainy new york highway

If you have been injured in a car accident, your ability to secure compensation hinges on one question: Who is at fault? In many cases, there is a clear answer, but that’s not necessarily true when it comes to multi-car collisions. And if a semi-truck or other commercial vehicle is involved in a multi-car pileup, determining who is liable for your injuries can become exponentially more complicated.

At Finz & Finz, P.C. our New York truck accident lawyers have helped many people hurt in multi-car accidents recover fair compensation for their injuries. Our New York personal injury attorneys have significant experience with these complex cases, and we can determine who is at fault and help you claim the money you need for medical bills and other expenses. Keep reading to learn more about fault in multi-car collisions, and contact us today for a free consultation about your unique case.

Determining Liability in a Multi-Car Tractor Trailer Accident

In some ways, determining fault for a multi-car accident is no different from in any other collision. For the purposes of a third-party insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, the party or parties at fault for a crash are the ones whose negligence led to the collision. Anyone who suffered serious injuries as a result can step outside New York’s no-fault insurance system and file an insurance claim or lawsuit against them.

However, the more parties that are involved in a crash, the more complicated determining liability becomes. Each person’s actions must be carefully considered. Depending on how the crash occurred, multiple parties could share fault, in which case, you might file claims against any of them individually or all of them collectively.

Examples of Liability in a Multi-Vehicle Truck Accident

While every multi-car accident is different, we can use some examples to illustrate how liability works in these cases:

  • Example 1 – A semi-truck is traveling behind two cars. It collides with the car directly in front of it, which subsequently strikes the second car. The semi-truck driver is at fault for rear-ending the first car, while the driver in that car was following the second car too closely. In this case, both the truck driver and middle driver could be found liable for the third driver’s injuries, as they were both negligent. However, the middle driver may also have a claim against the truck driver, as it was the truck driver’s negligence that initially caused the crash.
  • Example 2 – A semi-truck is following two passenger vehicles. The driver in the lead vehicle is distracted and suddenly slams on their brakes, causing the second car to rear-end the lead vehicle. The truck driver is speeding and is unable to stop in time to avoid hitting the wreckage from the first crash. In this case, the driver of the second car would likely have a claim against both other drivers.
  • Example 3 – Two passenger cars and a semi-truck are driving next to one another in three adjacent lanes. The driver of the car in the far-left lane merges into the middle lane without looking, striking the vehicle there, which spins out and hits the semi-truck in the right-hand lane. In this case, the driver in the middle lane and the truck driver would have a claim against the driver in the far-left lane.

As you can see, liability is entirely dependent on the specific circumstances of a given accident. And the more vehicles are involved, the more complicated determining liability can be. Furthermore, the truck driver’s employment status can determine whether they themselves are liable for the accident or if the trucking company they work for is.

Depending on the circumstances, any of the following parties could be liable:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company
  • Subcontractors
  • One or more other motorists
  • The government body responsible for the road

How New York’s No-Fault Insurance Laws Could Impact Your Case

One additional complication with multi-car accidents in New York is the state’s no-fault auto insurance laws, which necessitate filing a claim with your own insurer regardless of fault. Before you can file an insurance claim against another driver for a multi-car accident, you must meet the legal standards for stepping outside the no-fault system. This means proving you have suffered severe injuries or financial losses as a result of the crash.

According to New York State, your injury could qualify as serious if it involves:

  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement
  • A broken bone
  • The loss of a fetus
  • The permanent loss or limitation of a body organ, member, or function
  • An impairment that substantially affects your everyday life for at least 90 of the 180 days immediately after the accident

Why Insurance Companies Fight Multi-Car Accident Claims

Insurers have a natural motivation to reduce or deny claims to save themselves money, but they are often particularly aggressive in fighting multi-car accident claims. Insurance companies know that every percentage of fault on the part of their policyholder costs them money, and the more fault they can shift onto other parties, the more money they can save. To prevent an insurance company from denying you fair compensation after a multi-car collision in New York, speak with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the crash.

Time Limit to File a Multi-Car Truck Accident Lawsuit

New York’s statute of limitations on personal injury claims gives you three years from the date of a multi-car accident to file a lawsuit. However, we strongly recommend you speak with an attorney as soon as you can after the crash, as a lawyer can preserve crucial evidence and is better equipped to pursue the full compensation you deserve.

Compensation for a Truck Pileup

The more financial expenses and personal losses you suffer in a car accident, the more compensation you need to offset them. That’s why it’s important to pursue money for the whole range of losses you have suffered, which could include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages and reduced future earnings
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Lower quality of life
  • Damaged personal property

Contact the Truck Pileup Lawyers at Finz & Finz, P.C., Today

The New York truck pileup lawyers at Finz & Finz, P.C. are ready to defend your rights and help you fight for fair compensation after an accident. Contact our office today for a free case review.

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Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.