Accidents involving multiple cars can be confusing, not only for the drivers but also for those who investigate what happened. Just like in any accident, it’s important to establish who is at fault. In other words, who pays in a 3-car accident?
Below, we discuss common scenarios for multi-car accidents, and what factors help determine who is liable for damages.
How Does Texas’ Comparative Fault Rule Apply to Multi-Car Accidents?
Under Texas’ comparative fault rule, a driver is only financially responsible for another driver’s injuries up to their percentage of fault. So if the driver’s percentage of fault for the accident is greater than or equal to 50%, they will be the one who pays in a 3-car accident. Anyone whose fault is less than 50% will be eligible to receive compensation.
How Is Fault Determined?
The most common type of multi-car accident is the chain-reaction accident, in which a rear driver drives into the back end of another vehicle and that vehicle, in turn, hits the vehicle in front of it. In such cases, here is how fault is usually determined:
For obvious reasons, the rear vehicle, which most often is the first to hit another vehicle, will typically be at fault for the accident. But if the other drivers involved were negligent, fault may not always be so clear-cut.
Middle or Front Car
For example, the rear vehicle may claim that the driver in front of them was driving erratically or stopped suddenly, in which case the middle or front driver would be held liable. The middle car may be held liable if the car behind them did not have enough time to react to the collision between the front car and the middle car.
Hit and Run or Phantom Car
Sometimes, accidents are caused by a car that unsafely changes lanes or cuts off another driver who doesn’t have time to react. In these cases, the rear car may claim that a phantom fourth car struck their vehicle and caused the accident. This can sometimes be refuted using basic investigative techniques, but it does complicate the situation significantly.
In other cases, a vehicle malfunction is to blame for the accident. If a vehicle or one of its parts malfunctions, the car may cause an accident for which its driver is not responsible. All parties would then be able to sue the company that manufactured the vehicle part.
One common example is if a tire blows out when the car is on a highway. Chances are that that the driver will lose control of the vehicle. If the tire is responsible for the accident, each of the drivers injured in the crash can recover damages from the company that manufactured or installed the tire.
What Should I Do After a 3-Car Accident?
Once you’ve been treated for your injuries, your first order of business is to contact your insurance company and then a car accident attorney. Your insurance company will have an incentive to prove that the accident was another driver’s fault and your attorney can help ensure that you collect a fair settlement related to all of your injuries.
Investigating a 3-Car Accident
In a multi-car accident, police will usually be called to the scene. Law enforcement officers are trained to take pictures, talk to witnesses, and leave the scene undisturbed until all evidence has been collected. That being said, their primary goal is to ensure that everyone is safely treated for their injuries and to ensure that the flow of traffic is restored, not necessarily to determine fault.
In many cases, your car accident attorney can bring in an expert of their own to reconstruct the accident and ensure that nothing was missed by the police. This can prove invaluable because in any car accident, everyone will be pointing fingers at everyone else. And when it comes to the question of determining who pays in a 3-car accident, it’s important to have a legal professional in your corner.
Speak to a San Antonio TX Car Accident Attorney Today
If you have sustained injuries in a multi-car accident, it’s important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. We can help you establish liability and pursue fair compensation for your damages. Contact Brylak Law today set up a free consultation.