Driving to the Limit: The 5th Circuit Holds that a Multi-Vehicle Crash Is a Single Accident

In 2013, a runaway truck got into a major collision, crashing into four other vehicles and a toll plaza. The accident caused millions of dollars in damage. The truck and its owner, Global Waste Services LLC, were afforded liability insurance coverage by a Mid-Content commercial auto policy for up to $1 million “per accident.” After paying out the $1 million, Mid-Content disclaimed further liability, arguing that the agreed-upon policy limits were exhausted.

However, in a lawsuit against Mid-Continent, the plaintiff argued that the truck caused multiple collisions and, therefore, Mid-Continent’s $1 million liability limit should apply for each of those crashes instead of all of them.

The issue eventually came before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans which held that the negligence of the runaway truck constituted a “single ‘proximate, uninterrupted, and continuing cause’ of all the collisions...” The Court of Appeals reasoned that the insurance contract covered those injuries “arising from continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same conditions” as the product of a single accident, regardless of how many vehicles or claims were ultimately involved.

The idea that an insurance policy’s per-accident liability limits apply to multi-vehicle collisions resulting from a single cause also reflects the law in Louisiana. As a result, individuals who have been injured in a multi-vehicle accident must share the total liability limits with others who were involved in the same accident.

Injured in a Multiple-Vehicle Accident with an 18-wheeler? We Can Help You!

18-wheeler truck accident injuries can be complicated, often involving multiple parties including the truck driver, the business entity that owns the truck and employs the driver, and the insurer for the truck. To successfully litigate against these parties, you need an experienced New Orleans auto accident attorney who knows the ins and outs of the applicable law. For 35 years, we at The Womac Law Firm have developed the skill and understanding of the complexities of multi-vehicle accident litigation to help you obtain the legal remedy for your injuries to which you are entitled.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our New Orleans auto accident attorneys, call us at (504) 470-3935 or contact us online today!


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