An auto accident involving two vehicles can have serious consequences to the individuals involved, but a traffic accident that involves multiple vehicles can be even more catastrophic. Because the people in a multi-vehicle accident deal with the force of impact more than once, their injuries are more likely to be life-threatening.
A three-vehicle crash occurred on Harmony and Murphy Roads on Feb. 28 around 6 p.m., causing a 53-year-old Middletown woman to suffer serious injuries after hitting the windshield. Darlene Tonnesen, 53, was in one the three vehicles involved in the crash. She was flown to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick by Northstar, a New Jersey State Police helicopter. One motorist was treated at the scene by the Middletown Township First Aid and Rescue Squad and MONOC paramedics.
Multi-vehicle accidents don’t only result in serious and even fatal injuries, but they also involve complex legal issues. The efforts of crash victims to obtain fair financial recovery can be hampered by liability and comparative negligence issues surrounding the case. Assessing liability in a multi-car crash entails a careful and close examination of the facts and circumstances surrounding the crash. Other factors, including witness statements, testimonies of accident reconstruction experts, and police reports will be considered in determining liability.
In New Jersey, liability is assessed pursuant to the principles of modified comparative negligence which allows an injured individual to collect damages for incurred losses, provided that the percentage of their fault in the accident does not exceed 50%. An injured person whose level of responsibility is 50% or below is entitled to recover damages, but the amount will be reduced in proportion to their degree of negligence.
In a traffic accident that involves more than two vehicles, it is common for disputes to arise among the parties and their respective insurance providers regarding the fault assigned to each one. Damages are recoverable, not based on the extent of one’s injuries, but on the collected evidence. This could mean that a seriously injured person found 50% negligent is only entitled to half the total amount. An injured party found at least 51% negligent may be barred from recovering any damages.
If three or more parties are involved in the crash, the injured person may recover damages if his or her negligence does not exceed the total percentage of the combined negligence of the parties against whom compensation is sought. An experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney can help individuals injured in multi-vehicle crashes recover damages for their injuries.