How to Determine Fault in a Multi-Car Accident
When the roads are busy and the weather is poor, it’s common for a car accident to involve more than two vehicles, which makes for a complicated situation when determining who was at fault for the crash. In 2016, around 6.3 million accidents occurred in the U.S., many of which involved several vehicles. To determine who is liable for a multi-car accident, it’s important to know how liability is determined under New Jersey law.
Proving Liability in a Multi-Car Accident
Multi-car accidents can occur for any number of reasons and are classified as such when they involve at least three vehicles. In many situations, a multi-car accident occurs as a result of a rear-end collision where the force of the initial crash causes additional vehicles to be hit. If you were involved in a multi-car accident and are thinking about filing a lawsuit, obtaining compensation may prove difficult. Keep in mind that the driver who is considered to be at fault for a chain-reaction accident is generally required to compensate all of the injured parties.
However, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may attempt to argue that its policy holder was only partially at fault for the accident. New Jersey is a comparative negligence state, which means that the amount of compensation an injured party receives depends on the total amount of fault that each driver has. If one driver is deemed to be the only person at fault for the accident, they would need to pay all compensation.
However, it’s possible for one driver to have 40% of the blame and another driver to have 60% of the blame. The injured party could have a small amount of blame as well, which would result in them receiving less compensation. Any driver who is considered to be more than 50% at fault for the accident won’t be eligible for compensation.
Liability Examples for Multi-Car Accidents
In multi-car accidents, the driver who caused the initial collision would likely be held responsible for the entirety of the accident. Some liability examples for multi-car accidents include:
- If a driver fails to signal that they are turning and causes a rear-end accident to occur, the person who doesn’t signal would be liable.
- When a driver is speeding and crashes into another vehicle, they would be liable regardless of what happened afterward.
- When a driver is distracted and goes through a stop sign, they will be liable for the accident even if three or more cars are involved.
It’s also possible for multiple parties to be at fault for the accident, which means that more than one driver could be held liable for paying damages. When more than one driver is partially liable for the accident, multiple insurance providers would likely pay compensation to anyone who has been injured in the accident. Let’s say that car A is following too closely to car B and rear ends the vehicle when car B stops suddenly. In this situation, car A would be 100% responsible for the accident.
If, on the other hand, car C ends up hitting car A because the driver is speeding and isn’t able to stop on time, the driver of car C would likely be liable for the damage to car A and any additional injuries that occur. Even though liability is relatively clear in this example, multi-car accidents can be even more complex, which is why you should have a New Jersey personal injury lawyer perform an exhaustive accident investigation.
Obtain Assistance From a New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyer
While it can be difficult to identify the liable parties in a multi-car accident, our personal injury attorneys can help you conduct the investigation that’s needed to determine who was at fault and what the compensation should be. If you’ve been injured in an accident, identifying fault is essential towards making sure that you get the compensation you’re owed.
Keep in mind that many insurance companies will try to shift blame to more than one driver, which allows them to avoid paying damages for multiple vehicles and injured parties. Hiring an experienced attorney can protect you in this situation and make it more likely that the case result is a fair one. While the legal proceedings following a multi-car accident can be complicated, we’ll help you understand every step of this process.
When you have been injured in a multi-car accident, you should take steps to obtain the compensation you deserve. Call our attorneys today at (732) 247-3600 to schedule a consultation and learn more about your legal options.