Multi-car Accidents: Who is at fault?


Multi-car Accidents in Rhode Island & Massachusetts: Who is at fault?

Car accidents are not always clear cut. Especially in accidents involving multiple vehicles, its not always easy to tell who is at fault. If two or more vehicles are involved, how much fault is each responsible for? What happens if a truck hits a vehicle three cars behind you causing the cars directly behind you to crash into your car? Who is at fault? The car behind you? The truck who caused the accident? It’s not often easy to determine yet it is very important. Whomever is at fault will be responsible for paying damages. If multiple vehicles are involved, it will  also depend on which state you are in. Different states have different laws and you need an experienced car accident lawyer to help you sift through the details. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind if you’ve been involved in a multi car accident in RI or MA.

Multi-car accidents in Rhode Island

  • “Comparative fault” rule: In Rhode Island, if more than one party is at fault, it is determined what percentage each is at fault for. If determined that Car 1 is responsible for 60% of the accident, and Car 2 is responsible for 40% of the accident- they are each responsible for that portion of the damages.  This rule applies in RI no matter how much, or little, each is responsible. Even if one party is 99 % and the other is 1%.
  • RI does not cap damages in personal injury or medical malpractice cases. (However, plaintiffs in wrongful death cases may not recover punitive damages in RI)
  • 3 year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit. If a lawsuit is not filed by then, most likely your case will be thrown out. Time is of the essence. The more time that goes by from the date of your accident, even mere days, the more difficult it is to recover damages from a car accident injury.
  • Injury claims involving the potential liability of a state level government employee or government agency have 3 years to file a claim (not lawsuit) after an injury. Claim must be filed with the RI Attorney General.

Multi-car accidents in Massachusetts

  • “Comparative fault” rule: In the Massachusetts version of this rule,  damages are reduced if an injured person shares less than 50% of the fault from an injury. It eliminates damages if the injured person is 50% or more at fault.
  • MA caps non-economic damages at $500k in medical practice cases only unless certain requirements are met.
  • 3 year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit
  • In rare cases, an extension can be made if a latent injury could not be detected until a later date after the accident. In those cases, the 3 year statue of limitations may begin 3 years from the “discovery” date of the injury.
  • Injury claims involving city, county or government agency are given 2 years to file a formal claim, 3 years to file a lawsuit.

“No fault” laws for car accident cases in Massachusetts

  • No fault: In Massachusetts, when an injury is caused by a car accident, the injured is expected to seek compensation under their own insurance and auto coverage.
  • Unless there are more the $2,000 in medical expenses involved and / or you suffered a permanent and serious disfigurement, broken bone, and/or loss of hearing or sight.

First and foremost, when involved in any type of car accident it is important to contact your own car accident lawyer. An experienced car accident lawyer will instruct you on the correct procedures to follow when you are involved in a car accident in RI or MA  as well as some things NOT to do when involved in a car accident. Doing or saying the wrong thing after an accident can be construed as evidence of fault. Your personal injury lawyer will help to determine who is at fault by doing an investigation to determine which party, or parties, are at fault.

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