FAQ: Who is liable in a multi-vehicle car accident?

It can be difficult to know who is liable in a multi-vehicle car accident. Car accident cases are already stressful, intricate, and confusing enough in a simple two-car situation. What if you’re in a car accident where there are more than just two vehicles? This type of accident is known as a multiple vehicle collision, or a multi-vehicle accident.

Multi-vehicle accidents are complicated, and it’s important that you find a lawyer right away who has experience with cases like yours. Amanda Hayden has been successfully practicing law and pursuing fair settlements for car accident vicitms in the St. Louis area for over 15 years. Together with her hard-working legal team, Amanda Hayden and the Hayden Law Firm can help you move on from this event and return to your life. To discuss your case for free, call us at (314) 480-3100 or send us a message today.


Types of Multi-Vehicle Accidents

There are virtually infinite possible combinations of conditions, driver errors, and resulting accidents. However, the three most common types of accidents that are likely to involved multiple vehicles are:

  1. Read-end collision: When one car runs into the car in front of it for any reason, there is a chance that the accident will cause additional accidents. The force of the read-ending could push the front vehicle forward, causing it to hit another car. A car traveling right behind the suddenly stopped vehicle from the first collision might not have enough time to react, and can end up rear-ending the first car. This chain reaction can continue on, especially on roads where motorists are traveling at a high speed.
  2. Intersection accident: It’s dangerous for a driver to travel through an intersection out-of-turn because of the potential for a multiple vehicle accident. In multi-car intersection accidents, usually, a driver runs a red light, fails to stop at a stop sign, or does not wait their turn at a four-way stop. When a driver does not follow any rules of the road while going through an intersection, they can collide with a vehicle coming from another direction that is trying to go through the intersection at the same time. Additional vehicles attempting to travel through the intersection from any direction can subsequently crash into them.
  3. Highway crashes: Because of the high quantity of vehicles on the highway and the high speeds at which they are traveling, one small error can trigger a pileup situation. A driver might suddenly break or abruptly swerve into another lane in an attempt to avoid another vehicle or accident. Things can happen in the blink of an eye, and suddenly dozens of vehicles have collided.

Liablity in Multi-Vehicle Accidents

Each state has its own laws on how fault is assigned in car accident cases. The laws determine who can be liable to pay damages, who can receive damages, and how much. Missouri and Illinois have a comparative negligence – or comparative fault- rule. Comparative fault comes into play in accidents that weren’t necessarily caused 100% by one party. So, in Missouri and Illinois, when an accident occurs in which more than one party has at least some fault in causing the accident, each party is liable to pay the percent of the damages for which they are at fault.

As an example, imagine a rear-end accident involving three cars. Car A rear-ends Car B. Then Car C, traveling behind Car A, rear-ends Car A. Car B was traveling at the correct speed and was following all rules of the road. Car A caused the initial accident, so they carry most of the fault, but Car C was following Car A too closely, so they have some fault in the accident. Fault could be assigned as such:

  • Car A: 80% at fault
  • Car B: 0% at fault
  • Car C: 20% at fault

This is a hypothetical situation, but it is meant to demonstrate how comparative fault works. In this example, then, the driver of Car A would have to pay for 80% of the damages in the accident. Driver B would receive 100% compensation for their damages without having to pay out to any of the other drivers. Driver C would pay for 20% of the damages, or otherwise would have the coverage of their damages reduced from 100% to 80%.

There is also the matter of who you can sue in a multi-vehicle accident. In the above example, Driver B would only file a claim against Driver A. Driver A is responsible for 100% of the damages Driver B incurred. Driver A could sue Driver C for 20% of his damages, and Driver C could sue Driver A for 80% of her damages. Note that in multi-car collisions, one driver can often have claims against multiple parties. Your lawyer will help you understand which parties have fault in the damages you suffered.

Determining Liablity in Multi-Car Accidents

To help determine the amount of fault each party has in each case, there are some important resources to examine, such as:

  • Accident reports
  • Damage to your vehicle
  • The scene of the accident
  • Video footage
  • Witness statements

Your lawyer will help you make sense of skid marks, tire tracks in the grass, the type of damage to your vehicle, and any other information that can shed light on exactly what happened and who is responsible.


St. Louis Multi-Car Accident Lawyer | The Hayden Law Firm

Having a lawyer you can rely on and trust will make your life immesurably easier as you go through your multi-vehicle accident case and as you move beyond the case and life your life. The Hayden Law Firm has experience representing vicitms of all manners of car accidents. We understand what you’re going through and know how to help. Get started by calling (314) 480-3100 today.


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