If I rear-ended someone which resulted in them stiking the car in front of them, am I or am I not liable for damage done to all cars?

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If I rear-ended someone which resulted in them stiking the car in front of them, am I or am I not liable for damage done to all cars?

It is my understanding that in my state, you are required by law to leave enough room between your car and the car in front of you, which is what I was cited for. If I hit someone who was at or coming to a stop and then that person then hits the person in front of them due to lack of space between their cars then the person I hit would be liable for their own front end damage as well as the limited damage done to the car in front of them. Am I wrong or should I assume that I will be hit with total liability?

Asked on December 1, 2011 under Accident Law, Washington

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You are liable for the damage to both cars because by rear-ending the car ahead of you, that car was pushed into the car ahead ot it.  Your action started the chain of causation (events) resulting in damage to both cars.  You should contact your auto insurance company.  The two vehicles ahead of you will file property damage claims with your insurance company and personal injury claims.  The personal injury claims are separate from the property damage claims.  The persaonal injury claims will include medical bills, medical reports and documentation of any wage loss.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of the injuries and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  Your insurance company will handle all of this for you.  The property damage claims would be the cost of repairs to the vehicles.  The personal injury claims won't be resolved until medical treatment is completed and the individual is released by the doctor or is declared by the doctor to be permanent and stationary which means having reached a point where no further improvement is anticipated.  If a case is settled with the insurance company, which is usually what occurs, NO lawsuit is filed.  If the case is NOT settled with the insurance company, the opposing party could file a lawsuit for negligence against you.  If that happens, your insurance company will provide you with an an attorney at no cost to you.  The insurance company will handle the lawzuit for you.  If the case is NOT settled with the insurance company, the opposing party will need to file a lawsuit prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or will lose his/her rights forever in the matter.

DON'T WORRY ABOUT THIS SITUATION because your insurance company will handle all of this for you.  It will be several months or possibly a year or more before the personal injury cases are resolved.  The property damage is usually resolved early in the case and is just a matter of the vehicle(s) being repaired.


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