Determining liability is a critical task that law enforcement, insurance investigators, and courts perform after a car accident. Whoever is liable for a car accident ultimately is financially responsible for any damages. Proving fault after an accident involving one or two vehicles is often simple. When multiple cars are involved, the story changes. Some drivers lie. Insurance companies pass blame. Witnesses have different stories.
Those involved need to take special care to assign blame after a multi-car accident because the financial consequences are high for the liable party. Insurance companies, law enforcement, and investigators use a variety of methods and types of evidence to support their argument for liability. If you have been involved in a New Orleans multi-car accident, it’s in your best interest to get a lawyer involved sooner than later. Until you have the opportunity to meet with an attorney, here are the most common evidence and methods used to determine liability in a multi-car accident:
In today’s world, almost everyone has a cellphone with a digital camera. If you didn’t take photos at the scene of the accident, it’s likely law enforcement, other drivers, passengers, or bystanders took pictures immediately after your multi-car accident in New Orleans. Photos alone do not determine liability, but they do support other evidence that helps investigators determine liability. For example, details in a photo might show potential eyewitnesses to an accident or allow investigators to find video cameras at nearby buildings. Photographic evidence that can provide more information to determine liability include:
- Photos of skid marks where cars put on their brakes before the accident
- Photos of any road defects, dead animals, or hazards that caused one or more vehicles to lose control
- Photo evidence of alcohol use such as empty beer cans or bottles
- Photos that show fluid leakage from one or more vehicles suggesting mechanical failure might have played a role in the accident
Evidence from videos help determine liability in a multi-car accident the same way as photographic evidence but often provide better visuals. Some motorists have dashboard cameras and New Orleans has dozens of traffic safety cameras throughout the city. Many places of business also have security cameras that might capture a multi-car accident and eliminate questions of liability. If a bystander or passerby takes a video with their phone, this might also be of use for investigators.
The location and type of vehicle damage on each car involved in an accident can often reveal liability, especially when videos or photos support the damage. Law enforcement, insurance companies, and investigators carefully evaluate vehicle damage. Different combinations of direction and speed result in different locations of damage during a traffic accident. Information about vehicle damage allows those involved to deduce how the accident occurred. As mentioned above, multi-car accidents are especially difficult. Vehicle damage is unlikely to determine liability by itself, but it can help go through the process of elimination because the damage does not match the narrative about the crash.
Paint Transfers and Rust Patterns
Examining the way paint transferred from one vehicle to another and any associated rust patterns is a valuable tool for determining liability after a multi-car accident, especially one that occurs at high speeds. Investigators do not always need someone to claim responsibility after a multi-car collision because rust patterns and paint transfers tell a compelling story about how a car accident occurs. In high-speed accidents, drivers might suffer fatal injuries or injuries that render them unconscious, and vehicles might move significantly after impact. Investigators can look at paint and rust patterns to piece together which vehicles collided.
New Orleans is a bustling city, so it’s likely a bystander or other drivers witnessed the multi-car accident. Sometimes witnesses stop to give a statement to police. Witnesses do not always get all the facts of an accident right. Yet, their statements combined with other evidence can help fill in any gaps about the events leading up to the accident and how the accident occurred and support your side of the story. Combined with other evidence, witness statements do help determine liability.
Event Data Recorder (EDR) Data
The vast majority of new vehicles have standard EDRs that record data about a vehicle’s most recent collision. Event data recorders, similar to an airplane’s “little black box,” record a variety of things that can help determine liability in an accident. Some examples include:
- System status before the crash
- Driver inputs
- Vehicle crash signature
- Seatbelt use
- Airbag deployment
- Activation of a vehicle’s automatic collision notification system upon impact
EDR data is valuable for determining liability because it makes it impossible to dispute certain facts and dishonest drivers cannot lie about their involvement in a multi-car collision.
When liability is unclear, which is often the case in multi-vehicle accidents, lawyers and insurance companies sometimes call upon accident reconstruction specialists to help determine fault. Accident reconstructionists take a scientific approach and use a wide variety of data to determine how an accident occurred. In addition to EDR data, they might also use other evidence listed above to render an expert opinion on liability. Accident reconstruction experts are typically part of severe multi-car accident cases and often times testify in court for the party who hired them.
Get the Legal Help You Need from a New Orleans Car Accident Attorney
If you’ve sustained injuries as a result of a multi-car accident in New Orleans, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer who can advocate for you. Multi-car accidents sometimes present challenges when determining liability, and it’s crucial other parties don’t drown out your voice in the commotion. When other negligent drivers cause an accident, you should not have to suffer. The experienced New Orleans car accident lawyers at Alvendia, Kelly & Demarest have the knowledge and resources to handle the difficulties that come with multi-vehicle accident. Contact us today online or at 504-200-0000 to discuss the details of the accident, your injuries, and how we can help you get the compensation you deserve.