A car accident involving multiple cars, such as a chain-reaction accident with three or more vehicles, can cause a large amount of damage and destruction. These car accidents can result in complicated insurance claims, as well. There might be a dispute between multiple insurance carriers concerning liability, for example, or several injured parties. Knowing what steps to take after an accident involving multiple cars in Arizona can allow you to better protect your rights.
Involve the Police
Call the police right away by dialing 911 using a cell phone while you are still at the scene of the crash. Make sure you are in a safe location and out of the road before you make the call. Check yourself and everyone else involved in the accident to find out if there are any injuries. If anyone appears injured, bleeding or unconscious, request an ambulance when you call the police. Be sure to give your side of the story to the police officer for the record and ask for your police report number before you leave.
Don’t Admit Fault
When talking to anyone else after a multicar accident, be careful not to admit fault or apologize. While it is important to be polite to the other drivers involved in the wreck, saying that you’re sorry can be misconstrued as an admittance of guilt. This can place financial responsibility (liability) with you even before an insurance company investigates the accident. Do not admit fault for any part of the multivehicle crash to other drivers, the police or an insurance company.
Document the Multivehicle Accident
Gather as much information as you can while you are still at the scene of the multiple-car accident. This includes exchanging information with each driver, passenger and witnesses at the scene. Write down what you remember about the accident while the details are still fresh in your mind. It may help to draw a diagram. Include as much information as possible, such as what direction you were traveling, what speed you were going and the weather conditions.
An important part of documenting the accident is taking photographs and videos, if you can. Before you leave the scene of the crash, capture pictures and footage of your damaged vehicle, any damage to other cars, the scene of the accident in its entirety, any markings on the road, debris or broken glass, and roadway signs. The more pictures you take, the more useful they will be to accident reconstructionists for determining liability later.
Call Your Car Insurance Company
Once you have taken care of any injuries by going to a hospital, start the insurance claims process by calling your own car insurance company. This is the simplest way to file a claim when you are not sure who is at fault for a multivehicle accident. Your car insurance company will process the claim and can seek compensation from the other insurance carriers for you, if applicable. Do not give your insurance company a recorded statement, however, or admit to any amount of fault. Do not rush into a settlement without first speaking to a lawyer, either.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer for Advice
Before you sign off on an insurance settlement after an accident involving multiple cars, speak to an attorney about the value of your claim. You may be eligible for financial compensation from multiple insurance carriers, increasing the final result of your case. An insurance company may not want to maximize your payout, however. This may make it necessary to hire a lawyer to represent you. You may also need a lawyer to help you defend yourself against a claim of liability for a multivehicle accident.