Who is At Fault for a Multi-Car Accident?

October 10, 2022

multi car crash

Many two-car accidents are fairly cut-and-dry when it comes to liability. If it’s a rear-end crash, the second driver is usually at fault for following too closely. In a T-bone crash, the party that does not have right of way is often found liable. However, multi-car collisions are far more complicated. Not only is there rarely an automatically liable party, but it is also very likely that there are multiple liable parties.

It’s important to seek your own legal representation in these situations, otherwise, you risk not getting the compensation you deserve. Call Hodges Trial Lawyers at 256-539-3110 to schedule a consultation now.

Causes of Multi-Car Crashes

Chain reaction accidents may happen because of one trigger event or the unfortunate mix of multiple trigger events. Some of the most common causes of these accidents include:

  • Failure to yield isan error that can cause an initial crash. When combined with other mistakes, such as driving and texting or driving while fatigued, it’s easy for other smaller crashes to pile up.
  • Reckless driving is especially dangerous. It includes speeding, switching lanes erratically or without checking, turning without slowing down appropriately, and failing to watch for other drivers.
  • Impaired driving is a very common factor in multi-car collisions.
  • Distracted driving is one of the biggest threats on the roads today. Cell phones are a major distractor, but it’s equally dangerous to change the radio station, eat and drink, or apply makeup while driving.
  • Ignoring traffic lights and signs can cause serious multi-car pileups.

Determining Fault and Liability

The police will likely be the first people to determine who caused the crash. They will respond to the scene of the accident, get each party’s story, and look at the physical evidence to figure out what happened. From there, they may write citations and include their findings in the police report.

The police report will go to the insurance companies of all involved, and the insurance companies will initiate their own investigation. At this point, don’t be surprised if the investigation stalls. No insurance company wants to take responsibility for a multi-car pileup, as they could have to pay out a substantial amount of money. There’s a lot of finger-pointing that goes on, and it can be hard to reach any sort of agreement.

Potential Liable Parties

By looking at the details of each specific accident, you can start to figure out how liability works and what it means for your collision. Consider, for example, a three-car crash in foggy weather.

The first car comes to an appropriate stop when they notice an obstacle ahead of them. The car behind them is driving too close for the weather, and they run into the first car. A third car, also following too closely, hits the second car. In this situation, both the second and third drivers may have some share of fault.

Now, consider the same scenario—but this time, the second car hits the first car hard enough to push them into the vehicle ahead of them. In this scenario, the last driver would likely have the largest share of liability for hitting the middle car and pushing them into the other vehicle. However, if the middle vehicle was too close to the car in front, they may also share some liability.

Why You Need an Attorney

Multi-car collisions are extremely complex, especially when you consider the fact that Alabama is a contributory negligence state. Under the rules of contributory negligence, you cannot be compensated for an accident if the court finds out that you have any share of liability.

In a multi-car accident, that is obviously a likely outcome. This makes it hard to get any of the involved insurance companies to pay up. Bringing an attorney into the equation can help you advocate for yourself.

Start Your Claim Now—Call Hodges Trial Lawyers

The sooner you contact a car accident attorney, the sooner you can start working toward the fair compensation you deserve. Ready to find out how our team can help? Call us at 256-539-3110 or contact us online. We’re here to fight for what is right.