Understanding liability in multi-vehicle accidents

On Behalf of | May 10, 2024 | Personal Injury

Multi-vehicle accidents involve three or more vehicles and often happen on highways or busy roads. They can become complex, especially when determining who is at fault.

Those involved need to understand the rules of liability in these accidents.

How liability works in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania follows a modified comparative negligence system. This system allows a driver to recover damages if they are less than 51% at fault. However, the amount they can recover decreases by their percentage of fault. For instance, if a driver is 30% responsible for an accident, they can only recover 70% of their total damages.

Factors that affect fault in multi-vehicle accidents

There are various factors that can contribute to understanding the sequence of events. Important aspects include the evidence from the scene, such as vehicle damage, skid marks and video footage, which help reconstruct the accident. Witness statements from passengers, other drivers and bystanders also provide accounts of what happened.

Police reports are important, as officers at the scene compile details and assessments, often indicating their perspective on who might be at fault. Violations of traffic laws are another factor. For example, if a driver was speeding or driving recklessly, they are likely to bear a significant portion of the responsibility.

Common scenarios in multi-vehicle accidents

Chain reaction crashes are common in multi-vehicle accidents. In these situations, one vehicle hits another, leading it to crash into a third vehicle, and so on. Usually, the first driver who caused the initial collision is at fault, but other drivers could share the responsibility if they were following too closely or not paying attention.

Another scenario involves multiple vehicles hitting each other in different ways. This can make it hard to determine who started the chain of events. Each driver’s actions before the accident will be reviewed to figure out their level of fault.

What to do after a multi-vehicle accident

If you find yourself in a multi-vehicle accident, it is important to:

  • Ensure safety: Check on the well-being of all parties involved and call emergency services if needed.
  • Document the scene: Take photos and videos of the accident scene, including all vehicles involved, and collect contact information from witnesses.
  • Report the accident: Notify the police so they can make a report.
  • Contact your insurance company: Inform them about the accident and provide them with the collected evidence.

You may want to consider consulting with a lawyer who understands car accidents to help navigate the claims process and protect your rights.

Understanding and proving liability in multi-vehicle accidents can be challenging. It requires careful analysis of the evidence and the law. Following these steps can help protect your interests if you ever find yourself in such a situation.