What Do I do if I am involved in 2 injury accidents close in time?
- Seek medical care for the second accident immediately;
- Explain clearly any new symptoms you are having;
- Document the difference in your condition after the second accident;
- See the same doctor so she can document your new injuries or exaserbation of your previous injuries;
- Be open and honest with all your doctors about both of your injury accidents.
The answer to the question, “What if I am injured in two different accidents close together, Can I recover” is yes! It’s not an uncommon scenario. An individual is injured in an auto accident and two months later is injured in a second car accident involving different defendants. Insurance companies for the defendants will want to point the finger at the injuries coming from the second accident. The case is now more complex due to the multiple injuries. The question becomes, how is the fact finder supposed to handle the apportionment of the injuries when there were two accidents causing the same or similar injury? It is important to contact an attorney after any injury accident. At the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC, Henderson Injury attorneys, we will make sure your rights are protected. With nearly ten years of experience representing the insurance companies, Henderson Injury Accident attorney Laura Payne Hunt, Esq. has the experience you need to fight the insurance company. The law is well settled regarding burden of proof regarding a victim who is involved in multiple car accidents. The Nevada Supreme Court ruled on the issue of multiple injuries from multiple car accidents.
The Nevada Supreme Court addressed the issue of injuries from multiple accidents in the case of Kleitz v. Raskin, 738 P.2d 508 (1987). In the Kleitz case, appellant Kleitz was injured in an automobile accident on December 23, 1981. His treating doctor examined Kleitz and determined that he was suffering from a loss of lumbar curve due to muscle spasms. The doctor saw Kleitz on January 25, 1982 and believed that Kleitz should be hospitalized. Hi doctor opined that Kleitz may have suffered a herniated disc from the December 23, 1981, accident.
Unfortunately, while Kleitz was driving to the hospital on January 25th, Kleitz after his doctor’s appointment, was involved in a second automobile accident. The driver of the at fault vehicle in the second accident was respondent, Ellen Raskin. In 1985, Kleitz brought suit against the persons involved in both the first accident and the second accident. Kleitz settled with the first accident defendants but reserved his rights against Raskin. Raskin then moved for summary judgment alleging that the second accident did not cause additional injury to Kleitz. Summary judgment is when a party asks a court to make a finding as a matter of law, rather than allowing a jury to decide the facts. Raskin used the doctor’s testimony who stated that he had examined Kleitz before and after the second accident and found that his condition was unchanged in support of the motion for summary judgment . Kleitz moved for partial summary judgment on a legal issue asking the trial court if two unrelated at fault drivers in two separate automobile accidents produce an injury to the plaintiff which cannot be apportioned between the two impacts, are both jointly and severally liable to the plaintiff?
The trial court granted Raskin’s motion for summary judgment concluding that “Inasmuch as plaintiff cannot apportion damages as between tortfeasors, the jury would have nothing upon which to base a reasoned opinion as to damages to be awarded in the event liability was established.” On appeal, the Nevada Supreme Court concluded that under the facts presented, the plaintiff must prove that the second accident defendant’s actions were the cause of the injury. Once this is shown by the Plaintiff, the burden of proof then shifts to the defendant to apportion damages. If the defendant fails to meet his burden, then he is jointly and severally liable for the entire amount of the plaintiff’s damages attributable to the injury.
In reaching this decision, the Nevada Supreme Court relied upon the Washington Supreme Court case of Phennah v. Whalen, 621 P. 2d 1304 (1980). In Phennah, the plaintiff was injured in two automobile accidents that took place about four months apart. Trial testimony of the doctors established that both accidents caused the plaintiff’s injury, but there was no basis for segregating or apportioning damages among the causes. The issue before the court in Phennah was whether the plaintiff was required to offer an evidentiary basis for the segregation of damages among successive defendants. The Wisconsin Supreme Court made the following ruling:
“Once a plaintiff has proved that each successive negligent defendant has caused some damage, the burden of proving allocation of those damages among themselves is upon the defendants; if the jury finds that the harm is indivisible, than the defendants are jointly and severally liable for the entire harm. Id. 1310.”
The Nevada Supreme Court expressly concurred with the findings and result in the Phennah decision and noted that a similar legal principle is also found in section 433B(2) of the Restatement of Torts, which explains that the rational for placing upon the defendant the burden of apportioning damages as follows:
“As between the proved tortfeasors who has clearly caused some harm, and the entirely innocent plaintiff, any hardship due to lack of evidence as to the extent of the harm caused, should fall upon the former.” Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 433B Comment D (1965).
As stated in both the Restatement and the Phennah decision, the plaintiff must first establish that both the defendant’s actions were the cause of his/her injuries and then the burden shifts to the defendant to apportion damages. The Nevada Supreme Court reversed summary judgment but stated that Raskin may renew his motion for summary judgment at which time Kleitz must demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact concerning whether the second accident contributed to his injury.
The best way to protect your claim if you are involved in two injury accidents of any kind is to be candid and honest with your attorney and your doctors about these conditions at your first consultation. Henderson Auto Accident Injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, have handled hundreds of cases involving victims of multiple car accidents. Your truthfulness about your medical conditions and injuries will allow your doctors to understand your new injuries. It is important to be open about your past medical history. This honesty will put you in the best position possible for a maximum recovery in your case. Insurance companies and defense attorneys will have access to past accident history whether or not you are candid. It can damage your case if they find it be other means. That is why it is important to remember all of your past injuries when discussing your case with your attorney and your doctor and let your attorney and doctors know about these issues. If you are not honest in disclosing these conditions in the beginning, you are setting yourself up for many different problems including harming your credibility, ruining your entire case, and even subjecting yourself to legal action.
If you have a question about a prior accident or multiple injuries, whether from a car accident or a slip and fall or any combination of injuries, please don’t hesitate to call The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC, and Henderson Injury Attorneys for over 13 years. Please call our office if you or if a loved one is injured. We can make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve and advise on how to preserve evidence. If you have been in any type of accident and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury offices today. At our office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to. Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities. They want to pay as little on every claim as possible. Having worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.
At the Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt, PC we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur. For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our Henderson and Las Vegas Accident injury Henderson offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims. Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.