The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that a car accident occurs in the U.S. every 60 seconds, and that nearly one-third of those involve more than one vehicle.
One driver who is distracted for only a few seconds can set off a chain reaction of collisions.
A multi-car accident involves three or more vehicles, including trucks, passenger vehicles and motorcycles, and can be more deadly than two-car collisions.
There is likely an underlying cause which caused the initial crash, but establishing fault in multi-car accidents can be extremely difficult, and that underlying cause isn’t not always easy to identify.
Identifying the Responsible Driver
Each driver has a responsibility to other drivers, also known as a duty of care.
This responsibility dictates that every driver should exercise the same reasonable, prudent care that another driver would, under the same set of circumstances.
In some cases, not exercising a duty of care can be a willful or negligent act.
When such an act becomes the direct cause of injury to other drivers, those injured parties have a legal right to compensation from the at-fault driver.
The more vehicles involved in an accident, the greater the difficulty in identifying the negligent act.
Was one person speeding? Perhaps more than one driver was driving in a reckless manner.
Was one of the drivers talking on a cell phone, or texting?
Were there mitigating circumstances?
The list is virtually endless. In order to accurately determine fault, investigators will review police reports and speak to the investigating officers.
Investigators will look for evidence of: intoxication, suspended licenses, speeding, lack of automobile insurance, failure to yield the right of way, reckless driving, following too closely, and even outstanding warrants among all those involved.
Investigators will interview each driver, their passengers, and other witnesses in order to determine fault.
In some cases, skid marks or damaged fences, guardrails or trees may offer some clues as to which driver was primarily responsible for the accident.
Insurance Considerations in Multi-Car Accidents
Because multi-car accidents often involve extremely high payouts, the insurance companies have a lot at stake.
Because of these high stakes, insurance companies will often assign a trained accident investigator to determine who was at fault—after all, the at-fault driver will seldom freely admit responsibility.
Colorado transitioned from a no-fault insurance state to a “fault” insurance state in 2003, giving those injured in a multi-car accident several options when attempting to receive compensation for losses stemming from a car collision.
The injured person can file a claim with their insurance company, with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or can go to civil court and file a lawsuit against the other driver.
It would be wise to contact a Colorado personal injury attorney who can more accurately determine which driver’s insurance company you should file your claim against.
Many multi-vehicle collisions end up in litigation. Therefore having a strong legal advocate by your side can ensure your rights are protected.
Additionally, a properly experienced attorney will have a keen insight into important potential methods to be considered when establishing fault in multi-car accidents.