Unlike car accidents involving two cars, determining fault in multi-vehicle accidents can be complicated. Multivehicle crashes happen mainly when the trailing vehicle follows too closely, and something happens requiring the driver to make an emergency stop. That can result in a chain crash where every trailing vehicle rear-ends the vehicle in front.
Besides rear-end crashes, other types of multi-vehicle car crashes are common, including:
- Rollover accidents that impact many vehicles.
- Head-on collisions that generate significant force especially involving trucks.
- Blindspot accidents resulting in chain reactions.
- Side collisions forcing cars into each other’s pathways.
In most cases, all the drivers involved share fault for the injuries and damage in multivehicle crashes, especially when all the drivers were following too closely. Poor road conditions and inclement weather can make perfect conditions for multi-vehicle crashes, so drivers should be careful when driving in such situations. In the case of a failed commercial truck, the negligent company can be liable and share liability with service mechanics or the failed part manufacturers.
According to an Atlanta car accident attorney, several vehicle crashes can make it challenging to calculate the blame percentages that every driver involved shares. In most rear-end accidents, the impact happens due to the drivers not allowing enough distance between the vehicles to stop safely. However, law enforcers can investigate the accident to determine which drivers followed too closely based on the current road, weather conditions, and speed.
In most cases, one or two cars are responsible for initiating the chain crash. The officers investigating the accident may also look into the state of the vehicles to determine if any of them had brake failure that could have initiated the accident. After that, they create a report assigning fault; for instance, 80% of the blame to the primary driver who caused the accident and 10% responsibility to each of the other two drivers involved.
What happens when there are different interpretations of the fault?
As earlier mentioned, determining fault in multivehicle crashes can be complicated, and it may result in more than one interpretation. The investigating police officers may come up with different interpretations from the insurance companies and the lawyers involved. Such accidents can be controversial, but the most important thing is to involve lawyers.
Arbitration is the best course.
When there are different fault interpretations, arbitration is the best course of action. In such cases, the drivers, insurance companies, and investigating officers may have different opinions regarding assigning blame. Arbitration provides an excellent way to negotiate settlements and prevent spending valuable time in court.
Here, a third unbiased party such as a retired judge may be used to hear the case and get the parties to agree. Note that the arbitration can be binding or non-binding. Non-binding arbitration is preferable because any involved driver can reject the settlement terms and file a lawsuit in court.
A key takeaway
When involved in a multivehicle crash, it is advisable to seek a car accident attorney’s legal guidance. They can bring objectivity to competing claims, counterclaims, and complex formulas for assigning liability.