Multi-car accidents can result in more than one injury or damage to more than one vehicle. Alternatively, a crash involving multiple vehicles can contribute to a single injury. On occasion, the injured person might have also contributed to their own injury as well as the other parties’ injuries. In these circumstances, determining who is at fault for a multi-car accident can be quite complex.
For example, according to a recent news article, a woman died following a three-vehicle crash in Baltimore County on the outer loop of I-695. The fatal accident occurred just before 1:00AM, when a car struck the side of a backhoe being escorted by two pickup trucks from the Maryland Department of Transportation. Then, the car hit the rear of the front pickup truck. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities are still investigating the precise cause of the crash.
How Does Maryland Law Apportion Fault in Car Accident Lawsuits?
A lawsuit brought after a multi-vehicle crash can involve several different theories of fault. Maryland law allows an injured person to sue two or more defendants for the same injury, such as two drivers of different cars. In other states, a court may apportion liability equally among all defendants. Known as joint liability, this theory is based on the idea that the defendants are all independently at fault for their own actions.
However, Maryland law adopts the theory of joint and several liability. This theory is based on the idea that the defendants’ actions together caused the plaintiff’s injury rather than their independent actions. As a result, a plaintiff can seek the full amount of damages from any defendant, even if the defendant was only partially responsible for the accident. However, if one defendant reaches a partial settlement with the plaintiff, the other defendants are only responsible for damages that were not paid out through the settlement. For example, if the plaintiff sues for $30,000 and receives $10,000 from a settlement, she cannot claim the full $30,000 against the other defendants.
A court may also find the plaintiff partially responsible for his or her injuries. Unlike many states, Maryland applies contributory negligence theory to personal injury lawsuits. This means that if the injured person contributed to her injury in any way, she cannot recover anything from the defendants. This complete bar to recovery applies even if the plaintiff was only partially responsible for her injuries. Thus, contributory negligence often arises as a defense to a lawsuit. In Maryland, courts judge the injured person’s fault against what an ordinary person under similar circumstances would do. A Maryland personal injury attorney can help clients navigate this complex web of liability in multi-car accidents.
Have You Been Hurt in a Multi-Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Maryland multi-car accident, contact the dedicated attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen today. Our attorneys possess years of experience handling complex issues of fault and negligence in a range of practice areas, including car accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other personal injury and wrongful death claims. We are committed to providing diligent representation and fighting for the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free initial consultation with a Maryland personal injury attorney, you can contact our office at 800-654-1949.