Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.

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Elkhorn, WI

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Who is responsible for a pile-up?

Extreme highway pile-ups are rare, but they do happen. Emergency responders call these mass casualty incidents (MCIs) and discovering the party liable for all the injuries can be a complex process.

What do investigators look for?

Investigators have a great deal of work to do for an MCI. When sufficiently large crashes happen, often people will leap to conclusions without having all the facts. They may blame the weather conditions, low visibility or any number of factors, but that’s not the complete truth.

Often in these cases, authorities may take weeks or months to review the evidence to discover the exact chain of events. They may look at:

  • Available video evidence
  • Skid marks on the road
  • The damage to the vehicles
  • Eye-witness testimony

Using that evidence, they will construct as detailed a timeline as possible. Still, that may not clarify where responsibility lies in the accident.

A liability chain reaction

Under Wisconsin law, if a party is more than 51% liable for the accident, they cannot recover compensation. This is a more straightforward prospect in an accident involving just two vehicles, where one person may be more “causally negligent” than the other. However, the “causal negligence” factors compound quickly with each additional vehicle in a crash.

In a 50-car pile-up, it may be that the initial accident is causally liable for the first few crashes. However, as the incident moves on, there is ample opportunity for other outcomes. Multiple parties must make numerous mistakes for a pile-up to happen. How that affects the percentage of fault for each victim is massively complex.

Advocate for yourself and do not wait

The statute of limitations to file a lawsuit is three years from the date of the accident, in most cases, but investigations move slowly, and it is best to begin your pursuit of compensation early.

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