Palm Beach Gardens Lawyer, Jeff Vastola’s Legal Tip: What to do if You’ve Been Involved in an Accident.

There are a lot of things you should do after an accident in Palm Beach County, many, according to Palm Beach Gardens lawyer Jeff Vastola, are lost opportunities if you don’t do them right away…

For example, if you’ve been involved in a car accident take lots of pictures at the scene. Take pictures of the cars and people around you.

Palm Beach Gardens Lawyer

If you’ve been involved with a slip and fall, make sure to take a lot of pictures of what caused you to fall, and make sure to request a copy of the incident report.

If you’ve been involved in an accident and need answers to your questions right away, we have offices in Palm Beach Gardens and Stuart. Jeff’s cell phone is toll free, 833-827-8652 and his email address is jvastola@vastolalegal.com. Jeff is available 24/7 and his consultations are always free. 

multi-vehicle-collision

What You Should Know About Multi-Car Accidents

A multi-vehicle accident can be simply defined as a collision that involves several vehicles. Many times, people refer to this type of traffic accident as “pile-ups,” especially when six or more cars are involved.

These accidents are common on highways where hundreds of vehicles travel side by side at high speeds.  This makes it difficult for many drivers coming toward an accident to stop at a safe distance, thereby, resulting in a collision with other vehicles ahead.

Multi-car accidents are most likely to occur in conditions where road visibility is reduced by fog, rain, or snow. Under these circumstances, drivers must be all the more careful and extra alert. However, there are still some drivers who are not fully aware of how dangerous the roads are.

In many multi-car accident cases, drivers do not have much time to make a decision to avoid hitting vehicles ahead of them. Most hit the brakes too late, swerve into other lanes, and skid because of panicked driving. Sometimes vehicles swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid a collision only to end up in a horrible chain reaction and cause a larger pile-up. It is no surprise that multi-car accident is tagged as one of the deadliest accidents on the road.

Multi-Vehicle Accident Causes

According to a recent evaluation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 13,000 fatalities occurred in multi-vehicle accidents involving passenger cars—accounting for more than 40% of motor vehicle accidents annually.

The data show that the fatalities reported in these accidents were a combination of the following types of impacts:

  • Collisions from the rear
  • Collisions from head-on
  • Collisions from side-impact
  • Collisions from sideswiping

While the report showed these extremely high fatality numbers in multi-car pile-ups, more than 14,000 fatalities were caused by single-car accidents, defined as rollover and non-roll over crashes.

Establishing Fault in Multi-Car Pile-ups with Fatalities

Determining who’s responsible in a multi-car pile-up can be more complex compared to a collision that involves one to three vehicles. Even insurance companies are unable to quickly establish the liability of each driver or the cause of the crash which is why many cases end up in court. The court can look deeper into the case, provide proper judgment, and determine appropriate compensation.

Nevertheless, many states comply strictly with their “contributory negligence” regulations, allowing them to rule out fault by saying that if a person is at least 1% at fault for any portion of the accident they cannot receive any compensation as a result of the accident. Other states follow the “comparative negligence” regulations wherein the amount of compensation each driver receives is based on the percentage of fault.

Some states carry a clause of no-fault if someone is involved in a multi-car pile-up. In these states, you should immediately take action and help yourself right away.

Like other traffic accidents, multi-car collisions require evidence. The person who can present the best listing of evidence is typically the winner and the person compensated at the higher monetary value, whether there is a fatality or not. The primary evidence reviewed falls into the negligence category and can be declared as either contributory or comparative.

The previously outlined types of negligence can be broken down into the following categories:

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence states that if a party is at least 1% at fault (regardless if it’s a single-car or multi-car collision), no compensation will be received from other drivers even if they share fault.

Pure Comparative Negligence

As mentioned earlier, some states follow the comparative negligence rule. Even in a multi-vehicle accident, the degree of monetary compensation is directly affected by the percentage of fault.

Modified Comparative Negligence

At least thirty-three states apply the modified comparative negligence rule in cases of multi-vehicle accidents. There are two types of negligence that fall into this category, namely:

50-Percent Rule

The 50-percent rule outlines that a driver with injuries who is determined to have less than 50% liability in the collision may seek recovery of monetary losses against other drivers who collided with their vehicle. However, if you are at least 50% or more at fault for the accident, you do not have the right to claim any compensation from the accident.

51-Percent Rule

In this rule, the injured driver, be it a single-car or multi-car, is entitled to seek monetary compensation if 50% or less responsible.

Multi-vehicle accident claims can be quite a complicated process. If you or someone you know becomes involved in a multi-car accident, it’s advisable to contact an experienced lawyer to better understand your rights as well as the applicable laws.

 

motorcycle accident victim

First Steps One Should Take if Victim of a Motorcycle Accident

Motorcycles are a popular form of transportation but also one with a high degree of danger, and the statistics make this clear. There was an 8.3 increase in motorcycle deaths in the United States in 2015 compared to 2014, with 4,976 people killed. In 2015, 88,000 people were injured, a decline from 2014’s number of 92,000. Nonetheless, those figures are sizable considering that 8.4 million motorcyclists were operating in the United States in 2014. Should you end up being the victim of a motorcycle accident, you will want to take the proper measures to ensure you get what you are entitled to legally.

Contacting Law Enforcement and Insurance

Call the police and (if the injuries are severe enough) an ambulance right away, as you will need to file an accident report. Then, get in contact with your insurance provider as soon as possible. Ideally, you will want to do this at the scene of the accident. Give your insurance provider information such as the make, model, and license plate number of your motorcycle, as well as any injuries you may feel. If there is another person involved, exchange insurance information with them.

Remember: no matter what, you do not want to admit fault, particularly not when on the phone with your insurance provider, as they are likely to be recording your call. Any statements you make should be considered significantly. You might be disoriented following the accident, which makes it all the more imperative that you don’t say anything that could jeopardize your chances of compensation.

Determining Who is at Fault

To receive compensation for your accident, you must not be liable for the injuries you or another person received. If your negligence is the cause, such as operating your motorcycle under the influence of alcohol and crashing it into someone else’s vehicle, you won’t have a case. In fact, if you end up causing injury to another person and their vehicle/other personal property, then you will be held liable.

Additionally, you may face severe legal consequences for your actions, such as driving under the influence and reckless driving charges. If you were practicing proper motorcycle safety and were injured due to the negligence of another person, you should be able to proceed with your case fairly easily.

Remember: the more you practice proper motorcycle safety, the less likely you are to be injured in the first place. This includes: wearing a helmet, slowing down in hazardous conditions, and staying vigilant. Sometimes things happen without warning, but that doesn’t mean you can’t minimize your risk significantly.

Receiving Compensation

After you file your claim with all the necessary information, wait for your insurance provider’s report. Your benefit will depend on factors such as:

  • Severity of Injuries;
  • Damage to your Motorcycle;
  • Who was determined to be at Fault;

You will need to see a medical professional as soon as possible, even if you don’t feel like it’s severe enough to warrant medical attention. The worse your injuries are, the more compensation you should be entitled to receive. Motorcycle accidents can be devastating and might require you to spend a few hours in an emergency room or several weeks/months in a hospital bed.

If you are injured in a way that significantly limits or eliminates your ability to go through life as you were previously (i.e. loss of limbs, paralysis, inability to work), you should be entitled to much more than you would be if you simply had some bruises and bleeding.

Damage to Motorcycle

While your personal health is the most important thing to keep in mind after an accident, you should also be concerned about the shape your motorcycle is in. If it has been damaged or destroyed in the accident, you will want to report that in your claim so you can receive compensation for it.

Some insurance providers might attempt to get you to use one of their own, contracted mechanics. Instead, you should find a qualified mechanic in your immediate area. Once you get an estimate from the repair shop, you will need to send it to your insurance provider for their approval.

Insurance Provider Finding You at Fault

Even if you know that you are not at fault for the accident, that doesn’t mean your insurance provider will necessarily agree. Again, you should not admit fault. However, you should ask them if they are holding you liable. If they are, review the claim and file an objection as soon as possible. Reading the fine print is essential at a time like this. If your insurance provider still refuses to revise their decision, then you will need to contact an attorney who specializes in motorcycle accident cases.

Finding a Lawyer

At the Law Offices of Vastola & Associates., we specialize in (among other areas) cases involving injuries from motorcycle accidents. Should you need expert legal assistance to receive your compensation, we will provide it. Our dedication and devotion to our clients are essential when it comes to winning court cases such as these. Your health and livelihood are unmeasurably important to us. If you are someone you know is injured in a motorcycle accident, please contact our offices as soon as possible.