How are claims involving multiple responsible parties handled?
Cases involving multiple responsible parties (defendants) are handled the same way as a case involving just one defendant--they are just more complicated. Take for example the classic situation where a car stops suddenly ahead of you, you come to an abrupt stop and then two (or more) cars behind you run into you. This type of chain reaction is fairly common, particularly on the highway where people travel at fairly high rates of speed, but fail to maintain a safe distance between their vehicle and the one ahead of them. Multi-car pile ups can be difficult to sort out because often everything occurs so quickly that accounts of what happened vary considerably. For example, in one case we handled involving a multi-car pile up on I-295 near the Falmouth exit, it seemed like every driver had a different account of how the accident occurred and who was at fault. To further complicate matters, crucial evidence at the accident scene, such as the positions of the vehicles when they came to rest, was lost due to the effort to get the vehicles off the road so traffic flow could be resumed.
Although sorting out the fault of each party in this type of accident is difficult, it is possible to piece together a fairly clear understanding of how an accident happened if detailed statements are taken from all of the parties involved and any witnesses. Our attorneys and private investigators are highly skilled in obtaining information from witnesses about how an accident happened. We generally use photographs of the damage to vehicles and the accident scene to help refresh witnesses' recollections about where vehicles were in relation to each other immediately prior to and during a pile up. The damage to the vehicles involved can also reveal a considerable amount of information about the relative positions of each vehicle involved, its speed, and any evasive actions taken by the vehicle immediately before the collision.
Another type of case involving multiple defendants is a dram shop action. In a dram shop case, the primary defendant is a drunken driver. Whenever we have a case involving a drunken driver, we always investigate whether a claim exists against the person or persons who sold or gave the driver alcohol immediately before the accident. If we find that the driver was served at a time when he/she was visibly intoxicated, we will bring a secondary claim against the server for negligent service of alcohol under Maine's Liquor Liability Act. Attaching a dram shop claim to the underlying claim against the drunken driver is particularly important because all-too-frequently drunk drivers maintain minimal insurance coverage--not nearly enough to pay for all the damage and harm they cause. The claim against the bar or other server--while important just from the standpoint of accountability--is also important because it can provide well-needed insurance coverage that can pay for our client's medical bills and provide compensation for other damages.
If this information does not answer you question, feel free to give us a call and one of our expert Maine personal injury lawyers will assist you.