Car Accidents

In a Three-Car Accident, Who is at Fault and Who Pays?

Car accidents are stressful no matter the circumstances, but the situation can become even more complicated if you’re in an accident involving three or more vehicles.

Car accidents are stressful no matter the circumstances, but the situation can become even more complicated if you’re in an accident involving three or more vehicles. How do you determine who’s at fault?

With a multi-vehicle accident, more than one person might be at fault, as several incidents could have happened one after another.

If the case goes to trial, a jury will ultimately make the determination of fault after they’ve evaluated all the evidence.

An attorney can help you navigate this process, no matter who you believe was responsible for the accident. If one or more of the other drivers is determined to have been at fault, your attorney can help negotiate the best possible settlement for you.

What You Should Do After a Three-Car Accident

There are specific steps you should take after an accident. You may very well be shaken up, emotionally or physically, but try to remain as calm and objective as you can. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, do the following:

  1. Call 911 and report the accident to the police. You should do this after any accident, regardless of whether there is any visible damage or not. If immediate medical attention is required, tell 911 and follow their directions.
  2. Be careful to not share information with anyone other than police officers, and do not admit fault, even if you think you caused the accident. You do not have all the information required to determine fault at this point.
  3. Offer facts. Do not over-explain yourself. As mentioned above, you’re in a stressful situation and you do not know all the facts. Statements made in a panic can be used against you later, so make sure that you’re not speculating about what happened in a way that can be used against you in a later court case.
  4. While still at the scene of the crime, take as many videos and photos as possible. These might be very useful as evidence in any future cases.
  5. Seek medical attention for yourself and any passengers. There may be an ambulance on site. You and your passengers should be checked for any potential injuries, no matter how minor. 

Immediate attention is vital. If no ambulance is on site, go to the emergency room or make an appointment to be evaluated by your doctor as soon as possible. Keep a copy of all records and receipts associated with your medical treatment, as this information could be helpful later on when insurance companies or juries evaluate the case.

Contact an attorney who specializes in auto accidents. Share any information you feel might be valuable, including documentation from the scene, any medical information, and any tickets/citations that were given at the scene. Don’t worry if you’re not sure what you need. An experienced attorney can explain the process to you. This will not be the first time your attorney has dealt with this. Your lawyer is in a better position to help you resolve the matter effectively and to help you get fair compensation for your injuries, damaged property, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

How Authorities and Juries Determine Who Is at Fault

A three-car accident can be caused by several factors. Authorities and juries will take these into account when determining who was at fault for the accident. Some of these potential factors are:

  • Alcohol or drug usage: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is one of the leading causes of multi-car accidents.
  • Tailgating: When one car is following another vehicle too closely, there is a possibility of an accident. 
  • Speeding: When someone is driving too fast, it becomes hard to control the car to avoid a collision
  • Distracted driving: Any distraction, no matter how small, can cause multiple crashes. Distractions can include drinking, eating, texting, and phone calls.
  • Failure to use signals: Failure to use the necessary signals when changing lanes or turning can cause an accident. When other drivers don’t know another driver’s intentions, confusion, or a collision, can result. 

Weather: Weather conditions like fog, rain, and snow result in low visibility on the road. These conditions can hinder the visibility of other drivers nearby.

How Fault Is Determined When it Comes to Who Pays for Damages

There is no single way to determine who is at fault. Generally, the driver who made the first contact or did not follow road protocols is to blame, but each determination is made on a case-by-case basis. Here are some situations that can help authorities and juries assign fault in a three-car accident:

  • Rear vehicle: In many situations, the rear car which hits other cars first is at fault.
  • Front vehicle: The front car can be held liable for driving carelessly in a scenario where the driver stopped suddenly without using necessary safety indicators or precautions.
  • Vehicles making unsafe turns or changing lanes improperly: If the car is in the wrong lane or makes an unsafe turn, that driver can be at fault for the accident.

Vehicle breakdown: If a vehicle malfunctions, the blame may shift to the manufacturer or dealer and not the driver. In cases like these, the victims might sue the manufacturer or dealer.

Why You Need to Speak with an Attorney When an Accident Happens

Car accidents are stressful, chaotic, and emotionally charged, and people’s perceptions—including your own—might not align with those of the other drivers and passengers involved. In the aftermath of a three-car accident, it can be impossible to know who was responsible or at fault. 

An attorney can help you navigate through the unfamiliar waters in the aftermath of such an accident.

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