I was involved in a four vehicle collision on a wet rainy day. I was the last car in the chain reaction and slid into vehicle three, thus causing vehicle three to make impact with vehicle two. The insurance companies of vehicle three and two are placing 100% blame on me, making it look like a rear-end accident, however the CAD Response Report (Not Traffic Collision Report) states that vehicle one swerved into the lane causing sudden braking between vehicle two, three, and myself. I have spoken to an attorney who advises me to just file bankruptcy as I was not issued a citation or wasn't under the influence. Should I just file for bankruptcy or do I need to seek an attorney that specializes in traffic collisions? I believe I am NOT 100% at fault. Driver 1 and three were negligent.
This question comes up more than you think!
I do not have enough facts to advise you on Bankruptcy. However, if you were not at fault-----I saw fight! Let the insurance companies know that you will go to court if necessary to defend yourself. Further make clear that if they were ever lucky enough to get a judgment from you, that you have no significant assets and that you will consider Bankruptcy. Most collection lawyers for the insurance companies would not touch the case knowing that you have communicated that you will fight and that they will never ever see a single nickel!!
Good luck. I hope this helps and makes the Holiday season a little more bearable!
Unfortunately, the last car in a 4 car chain is usually at fault. That being said, there can be exceptions, like when a car swerves into a lane and stops suddenly. You will probably be found to have some fault, and the insurance companies will settle with their insured and then come after you. You can either defend or file bankruptcy to wipe out any obligation you might have.
Even if Drivers 1 and 3 were partially at fault, you are likely to be found primarily responsible for the accident. You could hire a lawyer to defend you, but that could cost tens of thousands of dollars, and you would still likely end up with some - maybe all - of the liability for the accident.
By all means consult with an attorney who handles traffic collisions before you make a decision, but if your best result would be to end up owing $50,000 instead of $100,000, and if you can't pay either amount, it doesn't make much sense to hire an attorney.
It appears from the facts that you will be placed partly at fault, even if you are able to fight it. However, more complete facts would be needed to help advise you as to a bankruptcy. Usually in a chain reaction accident the last car is placed at fault to a degree.
Although you are liable, your apportionment can be disputed by an attorney. However, you are going to have the majority of the fault and you will likely get claims against you for the injuries. What I would do is cooperate with their requests and hope the other parties have uninsured motorist coverage. This will allow them to pursue their claim with their own insurance companies. If the insurance companies then come after you to subrogate (collect what they have paid out) or if there is no uninsured motorist coverage, and only if the case goes to trial and you lose should you then file bankruptcy.
On the bankruptcy side...don't file until you get a judgment against you. Wait it out.
Dawn M. Saenz is licensed to practice law in the State of California and the California Supreme Court, and cannot give advice about the laws of other jurisdictions. All comments on this site are intended for informational purposes only, and are not intended to constitute legal advice, create an attorney-client relationship, or solicit business. No posts or comments on this site are in any way confidential. Each case is unique. Information not contained in these posts may create significant exceptions to the advice provided in any response. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation.
Probably best to not only have a car accident lawyer investigate, but a bankruptcy lawyer. Avvo has a great lawyer finder tool to locate an attorney close to your home. Good luck.
Keep looking for the right attorney. I once recovered money on behalf of a motorist in a similar situation to yours. Last week I delivered a check to a motorist who also was told the accident was completely her fault. It simply wasn't. "All" her fault, and I also protected her rights against another party I view as at fault. Some would say that is impossible . It's not. A thorough review of all the facts might support your feeling that you did all you could and your alleged negligence was not the proximate cause of the accident.
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