3-Car Accident Scenarios
While 3-car or other forms of chain reaction accidents can occur due to the carelessness of multiple drivers, often they’re caused by the force of the first collision.
In accidents like these, the last in the line of cars collide with another vehicle; usually rear-ended, pushing it into another car, resulting in a multi-car crash with often multiple injuries. These are sometimes called driver pushing driver pileups. Persons sitting in the middle vehicle are more susceptible to injuries as the car collides twice or more.
Regardless of the injuries, though, personal injury lawsuits in such accidents can be rather challenging. Even though the driver who primarily caused the accident should be held responsible, it can be extremely complex to determine whose negligence caused the crash. And the fault can fall on all three drivers if the court decides that other factors contributed to the collision as well. Some portion of the blame is normally assigned to all three drivers in such accident cases.
The complexity of multi-car accidents, in turn, complicates the car insurance claims of each party, giving rise to the question of who is answerable for paying the damages. When looking at a 5 year accident track for Sacramento County it’s no surprise that the two top accident types are rear end and broadside, also the two most common multi-car accidents.
Who's at Fault?
Coming to the core issue of who is at fault, it may be appropriate to assign 100% accountability to a driver who admits to being at fault. However, other factors such as bad weather, another automobile accident, drunk driving, road construction, distracted driving, or aggressive driving can come into play.
In 3-car accidents where none of the parties are willing to accept the blame, the state law determines who is responsible and to what extent. The state where the accident took place will determine whether any parties can recover on the complaint.
California State Law Governing Chain Reaction Accidents
With regards to tort liability and negligence, Sacramento, California is a ‘comparative fault’ or ‘comparative negligence‘ state in which the jury considers the degree of fault of each party before awarding damages. If the claimant contributed to some degree of fault, the jury might reduce the award amount by that percentage of contribution.
California law has a lighter penalty for the plaintiff compared to that imposed by some states that have a harsher rule. In those states, the plaintiff would receive no damages if the degree of contribution on the plaintiff’s part is 1% or more. Therefore, in Sacramento, California, the law firm of an injured party could argue and collect damages even if they’re 99% at fault.
Everything that is considered a ‘substantial factor’ in causing the harm is at blame. California law defines a ‘substantial factor’ as more than ‘a remote or a trivial factor’ considered by a reasonable person to contribute to the harm. However, it does not have to be the only factor.
Anyone who contributes to the accident in any way is liable to pay damages to the degree of their contribution. No matter how slight the actions of the driver were, the motorist is responsible if the contributing factor was more than ‘remote or trivial.’
These damages typically include paying for current and expected medical expenditures, property or vehicle damages, ‘general damages’ for physical pain and mental suffering related to injuries sustained, and the value of lost earnings resulting from a permanent physical or mental disability.
What Should You Do?
With all this in mind, it can be challenging for the courts to decide who is accountable to pay for the damages following a multiple car accident. State laws play a critical role in issuing a verdict in which one or more parties may be held responsible depending on the respective degree of their contribution to the accident.
Whatever happens in the court, all involved drivers should share insurance information at the scene and report the collision to their insurance company. To make sure all evidence is immediately identified, you should also contact an attorney soon after the crash. The car accident lawyers at Phoong Law Corp have extensive experience handling front, rearend, and chain reaction wrecks. Call us today.