When a car accident happens, someone usually has to pay. When three cars are involved, more than one person may be on the hook, leading to confusion in the claims process.
If you have experienced an injury in a three-car accident, then speaking with a car accident attorney is advisable for help proceeding with your claim.
What Kinds of Three-car Accidents Are Common?
Three-car accidents may have all types of causes, but they tend to follow the same patterns. In some cases, bicyclists and pedestrians may also suffer injuries during a three-car accident.
Most accidents involving three cars are either rear-end collisions or sideswipe crashes.
Rear-end crashes are common. In some cases, the speed of the impact is enough to send the first car struck into the one in front of it, resulting in what is sometimes known as a chain-reaction vehicle accident.
Frequently, the cars in the accident have stopped at a traffic light or stop sign while waiting for their turn to go.
Sideswipe crashes tend to occur at intersections. When speed is low and traffic light, sideswipe crashes can sometimes be minor incidents. However, some intersections have higher speed limits and are busy. Sideswipe crashes at high speeds lead to more violent impacts that send cars farther into other cars, whether parked or in transit.
Many times, sideswipe crashes occur when a driver runs a red light or a stop sign and T-bones another vehicle. After the initial impact, the struck vehicle may roll or fly into another. Pedestrians and bicyclists are also at a high risk of injury or death in sideswipe crashes.
Top Causes of Three-car Accidents
If human beings were error-free, most car accidents likely would not exist; after all, most crashes come about through driver negligence. Negligence is failing to take reasonable care in a situation where you owe someone a duty of care. Drivers on the road owe this duty of care to the public.
These typical negligent driving situations can lead to three-car crashes:
- Distracted driving
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence
- Failure to stop at a red light
- Failure to stop at a stop sign
- Failure to yield
- Speeding and other forms of reckless driving
- Driving while fatigued
Other negligent, dangerous driving actions include driving aggressively and engaging in enraged driving. In some cases, a negligently maintained vehicle, such as a car with bald tires, might lead to a three-car collision.
Police and Medical Reports
In Florida, the law is clear: Drivers involved in an accident with $500 or more in property damage, any injuries, or death must file a police report with the police agency of the city where the crash occurred. If the collision occurred in an unincorporated area, drivers must file their report with the sheriff or the Florida Highway Patrol.
Drivers with injuries should seek medical treatment beyond what they receive from first responders, even if the first responders do not transfer them to a hospital. The full extent of injuries may not appear at the accident scene. Get a complete workup by a physician after an accident.
Police reports and medical records are essential to establishing a claim for damages. If you are ever in an injury accident, do not forget to acquire these documents.
Find a Car Accident Lawyer
While determining and paying out compensation, many factors can lead to you getting a smaller compensation payout than you deserve. Wait until the accident situation has stabilized and you have received initial medical treatment. Then, make finding a car accident attorney the next thing you do.
Insurance companies are not in the business of handing out maximum compensation. Their adjusters and lawyers work diligently to avoid big payouts, even when victims deserve them. An attorney will fight to help make sure their client receives just compensation.
Insurance Claims and Three-car Accidents
After an accident in Florida, the injured driver’s no-fault insurance policy will cover the initial payouts. Motorists must carry minimum insurance coverage of $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP). They must also carry $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL).
Your insurance should pay up to 80 percent of your medical bills within the policy limits, no matter who caused the accident.
However, insurance policies will not cover other damages, such as pain and suffering. Your policy will also not pay more than $2,500 for non-emergency injuries.
What about the other 20 percent not covered by PIP? You may be able to recover that amount from the negligent driver or drivers in a separate action for compensation against their liability insurance if they carry it. For property damage, you look to the negligent driver's insurance company for payment.
For bicyclists and pedestrians injured in three-car crashes, their PIP insurance may provide similar coverage as if they were injured while driving. If neither the injured victim nor anyone else in their home has PIP insurance, the negligent driver's PIP may provide coverage.
Lawsuits and Three-car Accidents
A lawsuit is one way to pursue compensation for damages not covered by your PIP or liability insurance. However, Florida law only allows car accident victims to file a lawsuit when their injuries are serious.
Suppose that your car accident case is appropriate for a lawsuit. In that case, your attorney will prepare for the suit. Your lawyer will collect evidence to prove that another driver or drivers caused your injuries.
It is important to note that most claims and lawsuits settle out of court. However, some cases require attorneys to go before a jury to recover the damages their clients deserve. The compensation process takes much longer when this happens, but the compensation award is usually greater.
Damages from Three-car Accidents
Because of the shear forces generated by car crashes, three-car accident victims typically suffer serious injuries. Extensive property damage is also not uncommon. These injuries and property damage form the basis of insurance claims and car accident lawsuits. As you can imagine, three-car accident injuries can significantly alter a person’s life forever.
You can seek compensation for medical expenses related to your three-car accident injury. Typically, these expenses include direct medical care costs, such as surgery, hospital stays, and the like.
This category of damages also allows you to receive compensation for the money you have spent on prescription medication, transportation costs related to your treatment, and costs related to your rehabilitation. You may also pursue compensation for expenses related to long-term care.
Victims’ injuries often require them to take time off work and miss out on valuable income. These losses may also be the responsibility of the negligent driver. You might seek to recover current lost income along with future lost income.
Vehicle Repair Costs
Do not pay for the damage to your vehicle when someone else's negligence caused the destruction. A car accident lawyer can include your vehicle and other damaged property in your compensation calculations.
Your car accident lawyer may pursue compensation from the other drivers’ insurance companies to cover your deductible or other expenses.
Costs to Hire Household Help
After a three-car accident, you may need temporary or long-term help to complete your daily routines. If so, you may recover the money you pay for support.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering describes the agony caused by your injury. As you would imagine, putting a price tag on these damages is hard, but the law allows you to do just that. How much is a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) worth? Much more than a broken leg, although both might qualify under pain and suffering damages.
Emotional distress describes the psychological impact an accident has on a victim. Depression, debilitating anxiety, and mental anguish are real and directly affect victims’ lives. To claim damages in this category, victims must experience some physical trauma that forms the basis of their emotional trauma.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
A severe injury can severely affect your capacity to enjoy life. Things that once gave you joy may no longer appeal to you. Instead of waking up happy most days, you awake flat. Florida law says you may recover compensation for this loss of enjoyment of life.
Punitive damages are not common in car accident cases. These damages do not compensate victims for their losses. Instead, juries award punitive damages to punish grossly negligent or intentional acts. You can only recover them if your case goes to trial.
Time Limit for Filing a Lawsuit
You may be surprised to learn that your compensation claim has an expiration date. In most cases, you must file a Florida three-car accident claim within four years of the incident. If you wait too long, the claim may become null and void.
This deadline makes it extremely important to speak with an attorney as soon after an accident as possible to explore your legal options and ensure that you are within the time allotted to file your claim.
If four years have gone by since your accident, it is still advisable to speak with a car accident attorney about your case. Your circumstances may allow your attorney to invoke one of the few exceptions to the statute of limitations.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Helps Three-car Accident Victims
The compensation process is often daunting and highly technical. A car accident attorney is an ally you need to make it to a just payout.
Car accident victims should never forget that seeking compensation is not a friendly, collaborative process where the insurance company and defendant do all they can to get you the funds you desperately need.
Instead, the defendant’s insurance company and lawyers will look for any way to pay you less or even deny your claim outright. Car accident lawyers fight against these efforts and work hard for maximum compensation for their clients.
Accident cases that involve three or more drivers are complicated. Multiple insurance companies and lawyers will work in everyone’s best interests but yours. You deserve to have an experienced car accident lawyer fight for you.
Procedural and Legal Compliance
There are also numerous procedural requirements and regulations that accident victims should not worry about when nursing their injuries.
Filing dates and requirements, court communications, and other tedious legal duties characterize the compensation process and can overwhelm individuals who want to get their lives back on track.
With a car accident lawyer running point for you, you do not need to worry about anything but taking care of yourself and your family. And you can expect your attorney to inform you of your case's progress.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Today
If a three-car accident injured you, a car accident attorney will safeguard your interests and may substantially increase the compensation you receive. Time is of the essence after every car accident. Acting too slowly puts your right to compensation at risk. Contact a car accident attorney today.