Multiple vehicle accidents and multi-car accident in Rhode Island can be very complicated when all of the injured parties begin filing damage claims in Providence Superior Court. While one particular driver may have initially caused the RI accident, multiple car accident liability still needs to be sorted out. Tort law governing vehicular collisions in the state where the motor vehicle collision occurred determines who is at fault. An injured party may still have been negligent to some degree. However, the final decision in a Rhode island collision concerning which driver has the highest percentage of fault in multi-car accident will be determined by a Jury in Providence Superior Court unless a settlement is reached.
Commercial Vehicles and multi-car accident
Many times multiple vehicle accidents in Warwick, Cranston or Woonsocket are caused by commercial vehicles or semi-tractor trailer rigs that malfunction on the roadway. This situation occurs regularly when a negligent driver is following too closely. Maintaining a safe distance in congested traffic can be difficult for all driver and truckers, especially when traffic is flowing at a high rate of speed. When vehicles are traveling in close proximity, all cars are often moving in excess of the speed limit.
Because of inept insurance adjusters and penny pinching insurance companies who are emboldened to their stockholders, it is always important to have an experienced and aggressive RI car accident lawyer or Providence personal injury attorney handling your case. These Rhode Island personal injury lawyers can upend and discredit insurance carrier defenses that are intended to delay, confuse and hinder a just resolution of the cause of action. Also, your Providence injury attorney may be able to file litigation against a transportation company especially when there is documentation that the trucking or transport company was negligent regarding vehicle safety.
Comparative Negligence and multi-car accident in RI
Nearly every state uses some form of comparative negligence doctrine to determine liability for car wrecks. This can be confusing in a multiple car accident. Each driver is assigned a percentage of fault in the accident, and the amount of damages the injured parties can receive is reduced by their percentage assignment. As an example, individuals who are injured in an accident and have a comparative negligence assignment of 10% will only receive 90% of the available damages.
1) Rhode Island is a pure comparative Fault state. This means that even if someone is more than 50 percent at fault for a RI auto crash or multi-car accident they can still seek compensation for their injuries. In other words, if a motorist is 98 percent liable for an auto crash they can obtain 3 percent of their damages, pain and suffering, medical bills and disability.
Here is the Rhode Island statute concerning comparative fault: “§ 9-20-4 Comparative negligence. – In all actions hereafter brought for personal injuries, or where personal injuries have resulted in death, or for injury to property, the fact that the person injured, or the owner of the property or person having control over the property, may not have been in the exercise of due care shall not bar a recovery, but damages shall be diminished by the finder of fact in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the person injured, or the owner of the property or the person having control over the property.”
Massachusetts utilizes a “modified Comparative negligence” rule. In MA, If an injured victim is more than 50 percent at fault for a motor vehicle accident, the injured victim gets no recovery! Pursuant to Mass. Law, if an injured person is more than 50 percent at fault for the accident then the injured party is not entitled to any recovery. This also applies to the decedent’s estate in fatal wrongful death accidents such as Bike / Bicycle Accidents, motorcycle accidents, Premises liability, Truck Accidents and Motorcycle accidents.
This percentage assignment of comparative negligence is often where insurance company claims adjusters attempt to reduce negligent ratings assigned to their client, which ultimately reduces the total claim payout for the insurance company. The comparative negligence ratings are anything but an exact science, and having your own legal professional negotiating your settlement is crucial.
What is contributory negligence?
According to dictionary.com: “contributory negligence n. a doctrine of common law that if a person was injured in part due to his/her own negligence (his/her negligence “contributed” to the accident), the injured party would not be entitled to collect any damages (money) from another party who supposedly caused the accident. Under this rule, a badly injured person who was only slightly negligent could not win in court against a very negligent defendant.” Read more:
Thankfully, neither Rhode Island nor Massachusetts follows the contributory negligence doctrine.
Many times multiple car accidents will be the result of mechanical failure in one particular vehicle. Determination of defective equipment can be done by investigating the vehicle following an accident or by documentation that a particular vehicle component has been the cause of other accidents. This is especially true when one of the vehicles has already been subject to a recall.
Even a relatively straightforward accident involving just one or two vehicles can result in a complicated and stressful legal battle. When multiple vehicles are involved, however, receiving a fair amount of compensation often feels completely impossible when taking on the well funded insurance company. If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a multi-car collision, then it is time to contact an experienced Rhode Island personal injury attorney. Without a RI car accident lawyer by your side, you could find yourself struggling with mounting expenses and nowhere to turn for help.
Common Multi-Car Accidents
According to the Department of Transportation, over six percent of all accidents within the United States involve at least three automobiles. These collisions often take place when multiple cars are driving too close to one another and cannot react to an accident in front of them. They might also take place when one or more drivers are not paying attention to road conditions such as wet streets or an object on the freeway. Due to the complexity of these accidents, it can be quite difficult to determine which party is at fault.
Determining Liability for a multi-car crash in RI
Every driver should take some time to familiarize themselves with the laws in their own state. In most cases, the driver who is at the rear of the accident is at fault. Pursuant to the common law of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations “[w]hen a case includes a claim or defense resulting from a rear-end collision between vehicles, a prima facie case of negligence against the driver of the car in the rear is established * * *.” Maglioli v. J.P. Noonan Transportation, Inc., 869 A.2d 71, 75 (R.I. 2005). Source
They might take their eyes off of the road for just a moment only to look up as they hit the car in front of them. That car is then pushed forward into the next car. This chain reaction can easily result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage and medical bills as well as pain and suffering. The responsibility can also be split across two or more parties if it is determined that more than one driver was negligent. The jury in a Rhode Island Multi car accident will look at the respective comparative fault of each of the motorists involved in an accident to determine who is liable to compensate the injured victim. If the injured victim is more then 50 percent at fault for the crash then they are not precluded from receiving compensation for their injures.
Negligence attributable to the person injured
RI is a pure comparative fault state meaning a person who is 99 percent at fault for a collision could still receive 1 percent of there damages from the tortfeasor. § 9-20-4 Comparative negligence. – In all actions hereafter brought for personal injuries, or where personal injuries have resulted in death, or for injury to property, the fact that the person injured, or the owner of the property or person having control over the property, may not have been in the exercise of due care shall not bar a recovery, but damages shall be diminished by the finder of fact in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the person injured, or the owner of the property or the person having control over the property. § 9-20-4 Comparative negligence. More info about multi car accident in RI
Finding Legal Help for a multi-car accident
These complex legal situations should never be taken lightly, and drivers should never attempt to take on insurance companies and attorneys alone. Even if you are only partially at fault, your current insurance policy might only cover a fraction of what is owed. As for the victims, it is vital that you receive enough compensation to help you cover vehicle repairs, medical bills, and lost wages. Unfortunately, many insurance providers will attempt to pay out as little as possible in order to cut their losses. With our experienced legal team by your side, you can rest assured that we are doing everything in our power to help you get past these complex situations and move on with your life.
Legal Notice per Rules of Professional Responsibility: The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all lawyers and attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer / attorney as an expert or specialist in any field of practice. While this firm maintains joint responsibility, most cases of this type are referred to other attorneys for principle responsibility.