A multivehicle crash in the predawn hours of September 20, 2021 sent three people to hospitals. The wreck in Suffolk, Virginia (VA), inflicted injuries that were categorized as serious to life-threatening.
Suffolk Police and rescue personnel responded to the call of the collision at around 4:50 am. A press release quoted in news reports indicated that five vehicles were involved, with most sustaining significant damage.
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The investigation into what appears to have been a high-speed, chain-reaction crash remained open through at least the following day. The large number of vehicles and lack of witnesses who were not inside the cars and trucks that collided could make determining fault difficult.
Why Does Determining Fault Matter?
Car insurance coverage for personal injuries operates according to the rules of what is called tort law. “Tort” is the legal term for a harm or an injury that results directly from someone else’s negligence or reckless behavior. Proving that a driver has insurance liability for covering crash victims’ medical bills, disability and pain and suffering requires proving that the driver caused the collision that inflicted injuries.
The findings included in the final report on an official police investigation into a crash stand up as solid evidence for fault. Possible negligent acts that may have led to the wreck on U.S. 58 in Suffolk could include speeding, becoming distracted while driving, falling asleep at the wheel, failing to yield right of way while changing lanes and following too closely to slow or stop in time to avoid a rear-end collision.
Suffolk police investigators may conclude that one driver set off the chain reaction or that more than one of the drivers involved acted negligently. Each driver found to be fault could have liability to injured victims. This does mean that an injured victim could sue multiple drivers.
Virginia’s unjust rule of contributory negligence may come into play, as may the state’s requirement for each car insurance policy issued in Virginia to provide uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Applying the rule of contributory negligence would mean an injured driver who shared a small degree of responsibility for the crash would lose their right to file claims for compensation against a driver who was more responsible.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist (UI/UIM) coverage becomes available to injured crash victims when an at-fault driver does not have liability insurance at all or has coverage limits that are insufficient to fully compensate the people they injured. UI/UIM claims are handled by the injured victim’s own insurer, but partnering with an experienced personal injury lawyer is still a good idea. The insurance company will still ask for proof that another driver caused the crash and that all injuries are related to the crash. The insurer may also try to deny claims or pressure its policyholder to agree to a quick and low-dollar settlement.