The short answer is anyone who had a hand in causing the accident is partially liable for the accident. If Car A rear-ends Car B and pushes Car B into Car C, Car A will be liable for all the damages and injuries in nine out of 10 cases.
If Car D was driving behind Car A and swerved into the right lane to avoid rear-ending Car A and hits Car E, then Car A and Car D would both be liable.
Both Car A and Car D could have avoided the chain reaction accident had they braked in time or had been traveling at a slow enough speed with enough room between them and the car in front of them to safely stop.
Liability can get especially complicated when insurance companies get involved. It will be hard to attribute liability to Car B, Car C or Car E since they didn’t cause the actions of Car A or Car D. That doesn’t always stop the insurance company from trying to spread the blame around.
Most Accident Liability Will Be Determined by Traffic Laws
Basic traffic laws require drivers to leave a big enough gap between vehicles to allow adequate time to stop if the front car brakes suddenly. These laws also require drivers to be undistracted while driving so when a car does stop suddenly, drivers have the wherewithal to brake in time.
There’s an automatic assumption that if you hit the person in front of you because you didn’t have time to stop or you were distracted then you were driving unsafely and are liable for any damages or injuries that result.
Insurance companies will jump through hoops and throw out hypothetical scenarios to call into question the obvious crash narrative. In the above example, they may even try to place the liability on Car C. They may argue that Car C stopped suddenly or unexpectedly for no reason, causing Car B to stop suddenly in such a way that Car A couldn’t avoid the collision with Car B, pushing Car B into Car C.
Another factor that could play into liability is poor car maintenance.
For example, if Car B’s brake lights were broken, the insurance company can argue that Car A didn’t receive adequate warning to stop in time because there was no indicator that Car B was slowing down or stopping prior to the accident.
This rationale may also be used if Car C had been stopped due to a flat tire or a previous accident and had not put on their hazard lights. If Car C had attempted to change their tire in a lane of traffic instead of pulling over into the shoulder or a nearby parking lot, they could be liable for creating a hazard in the roadway. Even if Car B managed to stop before hitting Car C, the insurance company of Car A could argue Car C was actually liable for Car A’s collision with Car B who was stopped behind disabled Car C.
Even Seemingly Straightforward Accidents Aren’t Always Cut and Dry
If you’re confused by all that we don’t blame you. What’s important to remember is that in nearly every case of rear end collisions and multi-car accidents, it is the driver in the back who hit the first vehicle who will be liable for damages and injuries.
As you can imagine, multi-car accident claims can be incredibly expensive for insurance companies. They often try to pass off liability or at least share liability with other drivers involved in the accident. If the insurance company is trying to put some of the blame on you after a multi-car accident, preventing you from collecting the settlement money you need to recover from your accident injuries, consider contacting an attorney.
An experienced auto accident injury attorney can help you make sense of things and will fight to ensure the responsible driver’s insurance company pays you the money you’re owed for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and property damage.
Call the Law Offices of Johnny Phillips at 833.564.6693 for your free, no-obligation consultation.