We have all seen this scenario, three vehicles involved in a car accident. Who is liable in accident involving more than one vehicle? Often times liability in these types of cases is not certain resulting in often prolonged legal battles over monetary compensation for injuries and property damage. All too often the most important factor in determining liability is the position of your vehicle in relation to the other vehicles involved. Below is a breakdown of significant factors in determining fault in a 3 car pileup accident.
Liability of the Front Car in A Three Car Pile Up Accident
“Front car” refers to the vehicle in the front or the first car starting from the front. Generally the first car is not held liable. However, there have been instances where the first car suddenly slammed on the brakes to avoid rear-ending another car and was subsequently rear ended. If it can be proven that the front car contributed to the accident by suddenly braking, then liability can be distributed differently.
California is a contributory negligent state, meaning a party is responsible for their own negligence. Thus, if you are found responsible, that percentage of responsibility the courts assign to you will be deducted from any ultimate judgment or recovery. You can read more about contributory negligence here.
Middle Car Liability
The vehicle in the middle will be held responsible for the damage to the front car, even if the force from the last or third car caused the accident. Courts will apply the principles of contributory negligence, but only if necessary. Generally the middle car will be responsible to the front car for any damage caused as a result of the accident. It is possible for the front car to pursue a cause of action against both the middle and last car if needed.
This situation arises when insufficient funds are available in the policy. For example if the front car has significant injuries and the middle car only carried a minimum policy ($15,000) then you can pursue a cause of action against both vehicles for your injuries.
End Car – Last Car Liability
This is often considered the vehicle responsible for causing the accident, but if there is a sudden stop by the front or middle car, contributory negligence can be argued. In such cases the final car can be held responsible for damage to the middle and front car depending on the damage. It is likely that the middle car will pursue a claim against the final car for injuries associated with the accident.
However, in certain circumstances the final car may not be at fault. When there are sudden brake issues or loss of brakes liability can shift to other parties. After your accident make sure you take the following steps to ensure you can build your case.
Steps to Take After A 3 Vehicle Pile Up Accident
After your accident there are certain steps that you should immediately take. First, you should seek medical attention for your injuries. Regardless of what you feel make sure you get an evaluation. Many times injuries are more serious than you first imagine. Second obtain all insurance information from all parties involved. Even if you are the at fault party keep records of the insurance coverage for all vehicles involved. Third, take photos of property damage if you are able. This includes all vehicles and any skid marks left by tires.
Free Attorney Consultation – Second Opinion on Your Case
Make sure you consult with an attorney regarding your injuries. If you have a current attorney but believe your case is not being handled or evaluated properly feel free to contact our offices. We have years of experience in the field of auto accidents and have reached successful results for clients who have had previous legal counsel. It is important that you understand your rights and what can be done. Car accident attorneys at Downtown L.A. Law are ready to answer any questions you may have. Reach us direct at 855-385-2529.