A fireball chain reaction crash in Upstate New York killed one man.
The crash took place outside Hannibal near the intersection of State Route 3 and County Route 7. 77-year-old Harry Van Buren, of Oswego, apparently ran a stop sign in his 2005 Buick LeSabre. He was struck by a 2014 Ford F-150. While both vehicles were in the intersection, a tanker truck driven by 31-year-old Andrew Huston of Weedsport barreled into the wreckage and exploded. The pickup truck driver, whose name was not released, was pronounced dead at the scene; Mr. Huston and Mr. Van Buren were both transported to a Syracuse hospital.
In a separate incident in Oswego County earlier that day, a two-car crash outside Volney killed one person. No charged are pending in either case.
Establishing Liability in a Multi-Vehicle Crash
A large percentage of car crashes involve more than two vehicles, and it is difficult to assess fault. Other times, even in a two-car crash, fault may be an issue. For example, one driver may have run a stop sign and the other one may have been talking on a cellphone. But two legal theories help provide guidance.
When more than one driver is at fault, the jury must apportion liability according to the New York comparative fault statute. The Empire State is among a handful of pure comparative fault states. In this system, the plaintiffs’ recovery is reduced by the percentage of their fault. So, if the damages are $100,000 and the plaintiff was 40 percent responsible, the recovery is $60,000.
Pure comparative fault states award the plaintiff damages regardless of the amount of fault. Theoretically, in the above example, the plaintiff could be 90 percent responsible and still collect $10,000.
New York is also a joint and several liability state. When multiple persons are at fault, perhaps a negligent driver who ran a stop light and another one that was speeding, they are responsible for the percentage of the judgement that corresponds with their fault. So, if Defendant One was 60 percent responsible and Defendant Two was 40 percent at fault, they must each pay that portion of the plaintiff’s damages.
Even if you were partially at fault, or mostly at fault, you are still entitled to money. For a free consultation with attorneys who help you obtain justice, contact our office.