Who Is at Fault in a Multi-Car Accident?

Determining fault in a multi-car accident is complex. Multiple parties may prove liable, and only a complete analysis based on the evidence reveals who is responsible.

The New York City car accident lawyers at Douglas and London will thoroughly investigate your claim, protect your rights, and fight aggressively so that you may receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Types of Multi-Car Accidents

Accidents involving more than two vehicles fall into several categories. These include:

  • Chain reaction— One vehicle rear-ends another, which then rear-ends another, and so on. Some chain reactions, especially on highways, can end up involving dozens of cars, although this is the exception to this type of multi-car accident.
  • Vehicle swerving into another lane— Cars in the back are not always responsible for multi-car accidents. If a vehicle in front suddenly veers into the other lane, it may strike a car, which may get hit by another.
  • Hit-and-run— Some multi-car accidents result from a hit-and-run driver, but this is also tricky. Did the hit-and-run driver exist, or is this an allegation made by the driver who knows they caused the collision?

In New York City, with its stop-and-go driving, a typical multi-car accident may consist of a vehicle suddenly stopping, the car behind it following too closely behind and rear-ending it, and another vehicle then hits that car.

What to Do After a Multi-Car Accident

After the collision, call the police. Let them know if anyone is hurt. If you are able, take photos and videos of the scene and contact information of any eyewitnesses. Exchange insurance information, as well as driver’s license numbers of the other motorists.

Seek medical attention right away, even if you do not think you were hurt. Many injuries are not immediately apparent because adrenalin can mask this. Also, failure to quickly see a healthcare provider can harm your claim if you are hurt. The insurance company will allege your injuries were either pre-existing or resulted from something else.

Causes of Multi-Car Accidents

Since no one sets out to cause a multi-car accident, the reasons are the same as in collisions involving two vehicles. These may include:

  • Driving aggressively
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence
  • Following a car too closely
  • Speeding

Multi-car accidents are more likely to occur in bad weather. Snow, heavy rain, or fog are often the culprits, as driver visibility is significantly reduced.

Determining Fault in a Multi-Car Accident

Fault depends on the situation. In the classic New York City example above, the car in the middle of the accident is likely at fault, because they were following too closely and crashed into the first car. However, if the first car stopped suddenly, a lesser degree of fault may apply to the second car. The last car is probably the least liable– but that does not mean there is no responsibility. It all comes down to which motorist was the most negligent.

If surveillance video caught the crash, it is somewhat simpler. Finally, the testimony of any eyewitnesses is also valuable. A personal injury lawyer will be essential to helping you make your case that the other party was at fault.

Multi-Car Accident Damages

New York is a no-fault insurance state, so for health care, the motorist’s own insurance pays for this as well as lost wages. However, an individual can go outside the no-fault system, if their injuries are serious, and file a lawsuit. In New York, those injuries involve:

  • Broken bones
  • “Significant” disfigurement
  • Fetal loss
  • Loss of a body part
  • Loss of a functioning bodily system

If you are disabled from the accident for more than 90 days out of the following six months, you may also file. New York permits those partially responsible for accidents to receive damages, although their percentage of fault reduces these awards. For example, if you are awarded $10,000 but are considered 20 percent at fault, your award is reduced to $8,000.

Contact us at Douglas and London

If you or someone you know were seriously injured in a multi-car accident, we could assist you. Schedule a complimentary consultation by filling out our online claim form or calling or texting us 24/7. Because multiple parties will file claims, we ensure competing interests do not overshadow our client. In addition, our New York City personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, and there is never a fee unless we win compensation. Hablamos Español.