Who Is At-Fault for a Multi-Vehicle Accident?

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Who Is At-Fault for a Multi-Vehicle Accident?

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Posted By DAM Firm | November 25 2020 | Car Accidents

Vehicle accidents occur all the time throughout California. In most cases, these crashes involve two vehicles, but there are times when multi-vehicle collisions occur. Anytime a vehicle accident involves more than two vehicles, determining liability can become incredibly difficult. Often, an investigation uncovers that multiple drivers were negligent in causing the incident. Here, we want to discuss how liability is determined after a multi-vehicle accident in California.

Determining fault for California multi-vehicle accident

In most cases, the driver who initiated the first impact in a collision is going to be the person at fault. However, that will not always be the case. There are other instances in which other drivers or even public agencies or companies could share fault for a collision. The key to determining fault is to show which party or parties were negligent.

There are various types of collisions that occur that can involve multiple vehicles. This includes rear-end collisions, side-impact collisions, and head-on collisions.

  • Multi-vehicle rear-end collision. The most common type of multi-vehicle accident is a rear-end car collision. These are often referred to as chain-reaction collisions. Typically, the first vehicle to strike the rear-end of another vehicle is going to be at fault for these collisions. This is because the first rear vehicle that strikes the other vehicle had the most opportunity to avoid the collision. Any subsequent impacts will likely have been caused by this first collision.
  • Multi-vehicle side-impact collision. Side-impact collisions typically occur at intersections, often when a vehicle is turning left. These collisions can also occur when one driver runs a traffic control device such as a stop sign or red light. When a side-impact collision results in a multi-vehicle crash, the driver who failed to yield the right of way or who disregarded the traffic control device is typically going to be the at-fault party.
  • Multi-vehicle head-on collision. In a head-on collision, the driver that crosses into the path of other drivers who have the right of way is typically at fault. Common causes of head-on collisions include one driver drifting into oncoming traffic and striking a car going in the opposite direction. This can lead to both of the initial vehicles then striking others in the vicinity.

Comparative fault in a multi-vehicle crash

In some cases, there may be more than one party at fault in a multi-car crash in California. When this occurs, even parties who are partially at fault can recover compensation for their losses. That is because California operates under a “pure comparative negligence” system in which injured parties can recover compensation even if they are up to 99% at fault for the incident. However, the total amount of compensation a person receives will be reduced based on their percentage of fault.

For example, suppose Driver B rear-ends Driver A who stopped to let a pedestrian cross the road. Driver C strikes Driver B from behind because Driver B came to a sudden halt after striking Driver A. In this scenario, it may be determined that Driver B was at fault for striking Driver A. Driver C may also share fault for their part of the collision, though perhaps not complete fault. In this scenario, Driver C may be found to be 50% at fault for their part of the collision.

Multi-vehicle collisions can be incredibly complicated when it comes to securing compensation. You should work with a skilled Orange County car accident attorney who can help obtain evidence and determine fault so that you receive all compensation you are entitled to.

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