Cited in a 3 Car Collision...
(Tucson, AZ, USA)
I was in a car accident where the first two cars hit first and then I hit the 2nd car in line last. The first two cars were stuck together (rear bumper of the 1st car was stuck to the front bumper of the 2nd car). I had a scratch on my bumper but the damage was not as bad as the other two cars.
Right after the accident the lady in the 2nd car admitted to hitting the car in front of her 1st but then later told the police I hit her first causing her to hit the person in front of her. I was cited because the police said that in Arizona in a multiple car collision the last person is cited. I now have all of the personal injury cases against me.
Am I really responsible for everyone's injuries? Doesn't the damage to the two cars before me prove that they hit first because of how severe their damage was compared to mine? If I am responsible shouldn't it be to the car in front of me only, and that car in front of me be responsible for the car in front it? Thank you.
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ANSWER for "Cited in a 3 Car Collision...":
When a multi-vehicle collision occurs there is no presumption the last car is automatically liable for every other driver’s property damage and personal injuries.
From the facts you present you were probably issued a citation for “Following Too Closely.” In Arizona, as in most other states, the traffic codes require a driver who is following another vehicle to remain at least one car length behind the vehicle ahead of it for every 10 miles per hour.
In your scenario there may be two sets of facts and results. Regrettably, the driver in front of you is claiming you precipitated the entire collision by running into her vehicle. She states you hit her first, causing her to collide with the vehicle in front of her.
You of course, state you did not hit her first, not causing her to collide with the vehicle in front of her.
Regrettably the entire issue may have to be resolved in a courtroom. In the interim we advise you to stand firm in your position. When the Insurance representative (commonly known as a Claims Adjuster) for either of the other two vehicles contacts you – and they will - you should not discuss with her how many car lengths behind the other vehicles you were.
Do not tell the Claims Adjuster how fast you were driving either. We never suggest to any of our readers they make any false statements. We do though strongly suggest our readers refrain from making admissions of liability or culpability.
You should also have notified your insurance company at or about the time of the collision. Doing so will not be held against you. In fact not reporting the collision may forfeit your rights to have your insurance company pay for any damages to your vehicle or the others. Explain to your Claims Adjuster you are contesting the citation. Hopefully she will listen and take your decision into account while investigating the case.
Your insurance company will “sort out” the issues of liability. You will be bound by their decision. As we said earlier though, winning your case in court will go a long way toward helping your insurance company with their decision to pay, or not to pay.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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