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Don Jacobs
Don Jacobs
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Chain reaction collisions

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It’s kind of like bumper pool. A car strikes the vehicle in front. The blow propels the struck vehicle into another. Sometimes chain reaction collisions involve as many as four, five, six or more vehicles. So who is responsible for all the damage? What if someone is injured? These cases tend to create nightmares for attorneys. Seldom simple, the claims commonly involve dealing with multiple insurance companies and inconsistent statements from drivers. Often there isn’t enough insurance to go around, especially if the collision created multiple injuries. If they have it, some drivers have to turn to their own underinsured motorist coverage to get full compensation. One myth lawyers tend to hear again and again on these cases is the belief the driver behind you is always at fault. Not so. If a driver is struck and propelled into a vehicle, they might not be responsible for any of the damage to the car in front. This is true even if the first car that struck and pushed the vehicle forward carried no insurance at all. Some drivers who strike vehicles creating chain collisions try to claim the vehicle they ran into must have struck the car in front before they arrived. If they do, their insurance company may try to avoid paying for anything other than the damage to the rear. Sometimes the sandwich vehicle reacts like a ping pong ball when struck, hitting the vehicle in front more than once. Insurance companies may use a statement from the driver in front who felt two impacts as support for their insured’s version. The best advice for anyone unlucky enough to experience one of these collisions first hand is to hire an attorney without delay. It’s important to have an investigator take statements as soon as possible before witnesses move away or forget the details. Often an attorney investigator finds people reluctant to talk if they’ve already been interviewed by an insurance adjustor. “I’ve already told my story, get it from them” is a common reply. Unfortunately, the insurance company is under no obligation to share any part of their investigation. And their interests in preserving evidence may be directly opposite to yours.