When an accident involves multiple vehicles, questions regarding liability arise. Given that multiple drivers are involved in the event, it becomes difficult to determine the fault. This careful assessment varies by state and jurisdiction.
For example – Chicago uses a modified comparative negligence model, meaning you are entitled to compensation only if your share of the blame for the accident is not more than 51%. However, this assessment must be done by a legal representative because there are several barriers to proving liability.
If you or a loved one has been hurt, consult a Chicago car accident attorney to oversee your case. Working with a qualified accident attorney is important to reach a viable settlement.
Experienced attorneys know how to determine fault in multi-vehicle accidents, from fender-benders to pileups. They’ll help you determine who is to blame for your accident and take steps to hold them accountable for your expenses, pain, and suffering.
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How is fault determined?
In accidents involving multiple vehicles, the motorist may finger-point because of a shortage of information or to avoid blame. Third-party witnesses might think that the motorist responsible for the domino effect is to blame for the crash.
That may be true, but not in all cases. Determining fault in a multi-vehicle accident can be challenging. Experts analyze various factors, including the following:
The actions of the motorists
Experts will examine the actions of the motorists involved in the multiple-vehicle crash to determine the cause of the accident. They will check if any or some of them were speeding, ignoring traffic lights, driving under the influence, refusing to yield, etc.
Such actions can cause multiple vehicles to crash. For example, a sideswipe involving multiple cars may occur if a driver shifts lanes while distracted or without correctly estimating his position and speed relative to surrounding cars.
In such a case, the lane-changing driver is the one at fault. Another cause of multiple vehicle accidents may be rear-ending. If one driver rear-ends a driver who goes on to hit another vehicle, the first motorist would likely be to blame.
However, if the motorist who gets rear-ended swerves into approaching traffic, hitting them head-on, they would likely be assigned blame.
The actions of cyclists or pedestrians
Apart from motorists, traffic accidents can happen because of the actions of other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians. Experts will examine witness statements, traffic footage, police reports, and other relevant evidence to see if any other road user was the cause of the accident.
Some accidents are caused by defective vehicles, so experts check the reports of the vehicles involved in the accident too. Vehicle reports reveal vital information, even if the driver who failed to maintain a road-worthy vehicle is busy pointing fingers to avoid blame.
Weather and road conditions
Accidents may also result from poor weather, bad roads, or both. For example, the likelihood of accidents increases when conditions get foggy, snowy, and rainy roads get icy or physically dangerous.
In such cases, the motorist who fails to drive safely in hazardous conditions may get blamed. For example, the motorist may’ve been speeding, failed to maintain safe driving distance, or used headlights.
The government may also be to blame for failing to clear ice, seal potholes, and maintain good roads. In other cases, vehicle parts manufacturers may get blamed for skidding vehicles, forgetting breaks, headlights, etc.
Can More Than One Party Be at Fault in a Multi-Vehicle Accident?
The fault is not always unequivocal in accidents involving multiple cars. In some cases, it may be revealed that more than one motorist is to blame. For example, if a driver swerves into approaching traffic to avoid impact with a vehicle that’s getting rear-ended, the rear-ending and swerving drivers could be found at fault.
However, the one that got rear-ended might not. In this case, both drivers may be found responsible for their own damages or share liability for the damages experienced by the other motorists.