November 8, 2022

How is Fault Determined After a Multi Vehicle Accident?

Norristown Car Accident Lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. Help Accident Victims in Multi-Car Crashes.

Few experiences are as traumatic and overwhelming than being in a multi-vehicle accident. With so much destruction and the increased chance of severe injuries, multi-vehicle accidents can be devastating. With the multiple parties involved, each with their own accounts of what happened, determining liability in a multi-vehicle accident can be especially difficult.

A multi-vehicle collision can happen suddenly and without warning. There are steps to take that can help you and your passengers stay safe if you find yourself in such a situation:

  • Check everyone: The first step is to make sure you and your passengers are okay. If anyone is injured, call 911 right away. If you are able, check the other drivers. If it is not safe, do not get out of the car. There may be other cars trying to get out of the way of the accident.
  • Get evidence: Take as many photos and video of the scene as possible. Doing so could help determine who is at fault.
  • Wait for the police: The police should arrive shortly, as well as emergency responders. The police will fill out a detailed report with everyone who is involved sharing their accounts.
  • Get medical help: If you are not attended to by medical responders at the scene, and you do not go to the hospital, it is best to see a doctor even if you do not feel injured. Many injuries do not manifest until hours or days after the accident.
  • Contact your insurance: Call your insurance company and report the accident as soon as you can. An insurance adjuster will use the evidence you collected as well as the police report to determine how you will be compensated.

Determining fault in a multi-vehicle accident can be complex, and the more vehicles involved, the more difficult it can be. The police report is possibly the best way to determine who is at fault for the crash. The police report will contain important details of the crash, the statements, and accounts of those involved in the crash, as well as a survey of the scene and an examination of evidence. If the responding officer suspects a driver to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may perform a field sobriety test or arrest the driver at the scene.

Insurance companies will also send their adjusters to investigate an accident. They may need to decide how much liability their policyholders have in the accident and how much the insurance company is willing to pay for the claims. The evidence the insurance adjuster will use will largely come from the police report, but they may also inspect the damaged vehicles, visit the scene of the accident, and contact any witnesses.

Deciding fault will likely be determined by the insurance companies involved, and it will depend on the state where the accident occurred. Many states have laws concerning shared fault, which could reduce the amount of damages an accident victim will collect.

How Do Multi-Vehicle Accidents Happen?

There are countless scenarios at play that can lead to a multi-vehicle accident. From bad weather conditions and reckless drivers to hazards in the highway, it is important to understand how multi-vehicle collisions happen in order to prevent them:

  • Distracted driving: Distracted driving is major problem and is one of the leading causes of car accidents in the country. A distracted driver could easily cause a multi-vehicle collision by not paying attention and hitting the car in front of them, among other possible scenarios.
  • Reckless driving: Reckless driving comes in many forms, including distracted driving, and can result in multi-vehicle accident simply because of one driver’s carelessness. Speeding, aggressive driving, and drunk driving are just a few examples of reckless driving that is extremely dangerous and could cause injury and death.
  • Poor weather conditions: Bad weather conditions, especially on the highway, are common causes of pile-up accidents. Sudden snow squalls could cause whiteout conditions that reduce visibility to near zero, as well as torrential downpours that can happen seemingly without warning. There is also the possibility of ice or slippery conditions that can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. Drivers must always be paying attention and being extra-cautious when weather conditions are poor.
  • Hazards in the road: Sometimes a hazard in the road, like an object that fell off a truck, can appear so suddenly no one has enough time to stop. A broken-down vehicle or even a car already in an accident can lead to a pileup collision.

Pennsylvania Car Accident Laws

It is important to understand the accident laws of the state you get into a multi-vehicle accident in, because many have shared fault laws that could determine how much the insurance company decides to pay for your claim. Pennsylvania has three main laws to know: the statute of limitations, the “modified comparative fault” rule, and the “no-fault” insurance rule:

  • Statute of limitations: The statute of limitations is the time limit you have to file a car accident lawsuit. Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. If the accident resulted in the death of someone, the deadline for filing a wrongful death lawsuit starts on the date of the victim’s death.
  • Modified comparative fault: The modified comparative fault law is important in multi-vehicle accidents, mainly because in multi-vehicle collisions more than one driver may share fault. With a comparative fault rule, the plaintiff’s damages award is reduced by how much fault they share in the accident. For instance, if they are found to share 25 percent of the fault for the accident, then instead of receiving the whole $10,000 of damages, they would only receive 75 percent of that. With the modified comparative law, if any plaintiff is found to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident, then they cannot recover any damages at all.
  • No-fault insurance: No-fault insurance means that anyone that is involved in an accident must go to their own insurance carrier to be compensated for their losses, regardless of who is at fault. This includes property damage, financial losses, and medical bills. Pennsylvania drivers must have no-fault insurance and can only sue the at-fault driver should they meet certain prerequisites.

Norristown Car Accident Lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. Help Accident Victims in Multi-Car Crashes

A multi-car crash can be very complex in determining fault. A reputable car accident lawyer can go through the details of your case and can help protect your rights. If you have been in a multi-vehicle accident, call the Norristown car accident lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. right away. Our team has years of experience with these types of cases and can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 267-861-7100 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. With offices located in Philadelphia and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve all communities of Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Chester County, and Norristown.