Fault in Crashes with Multiple Vehicles | O'Connor and Partners

When you are seriously injured in a multi-car accident, recovering your losses starts with determining who was at fault for the collision. However, depending on the circumstances involved, this can be easier said than done.

Determining liability for a multi-car accident requires a comprehensive investigation. It is also important to know that one or more of the drivers might not be the only ones who are liable for your injuries. The experienced car accident lawyers at O’Connor & Partners, PLLC can investigate the crash and advise you of your options for recovering compensation.

3 Common Examples of Multi-Car Accidents

To illustrate, let’s look at a few examples:

Example 1: A Chain-Reaction Accident

We’ll start with the most-common type of multi-car accident: a chain-reaction collision. Let’s imagine that you are waiting at a red light, and all of a sudden you get rear-ended. When you get out to inspect the damage, you see that the vehicle that hit your car has been rear-ended as well.

Who was at fault?

In order to determine who was at fault in this scenario, it will be necessary to conduct a forensic on-scene investigation. Was the driver who hit you being careless? Was his or her vehicle pushed into yours when it got rear-ended? Or was some other factor (or a combination of factors) involved?

There are several possibilities, and your attorney will need to collect evidence at the scene of the accident in order to piece together the order of events. Your attorney will also need to carefully examine the evidence to determine if a non-driver-related factor (i.e., a brake failure) caused or contributed to your multi-vehicle accident.

Depending on what your attorney’s investigation reveals, the party or parties that may be at fault include (but are not limited to):

  • One or both of the other drivers (if one or both drivers were negligent in causing the collision)
  • A vehicle manufacturer, dealership, or repair shop (if a brake failure or other vehicle-related issue caused the accident)
  • The road authority (if one of the other drivers was unable to stop due to an issue with the road)

Accident reconstruction may be necessary to determine how the crash occurred. Your lawyer may also hire engineers and other experts to assess the factors and provide testimony on the cause.

Example 2: A Messy Intersection Accident

Now let’s consider a scenario in which two vehicles collide at an intersection, and then one of these vehicles hits your car in a secondary collision.

Who was at fault?

In this scenario, determining who is liable for your injuries most likely involves determining who was at fault in the initial collision. Since the first collision led directly to your secondary collision, both collisions will likely (though not necessarily) be attributable to the same causal factor or factors.

Here, too, a prompt on-scene investigation will be necessary. Your attorney may also need to seek evidence from other sources (i.e., one or both of the other drivers’ cell phone companies) in order to comprehensively assess fault and liability.

Example 3: A Pileup on the Highway

Finally, let’s examine a highway pileup. There are numerous vehicles involved, and you need to figure out whose insurance company has to pay for your accident-related losses.

Who was at fault?

The more vehicles that are involved in an accident, the more difficult it becomes to pinpoint liability. In cases involving highway pileups, any of the drivers can potentially be at fault – as can any of the vehicles’ manufacturers, dealerships, or repair shops. The road authority could be at fault as well. If any commercial vehicles were involved, this further expands the list of possibilities.

Once again, determining who was at fault will require an exhaustive investigation. In the event of a highway pileup, it will be important for your attorney to get to work as soon as possible in order to preserve the available evidence before it disappears.

Understanding the Impact of New York’s “Joint and Several Liability” Law

If you were injured in a multi-car accident, New York’s “joint and several liability” law could play a key role in your financial recovery. Under this law, even if multiple parties were at fault in the accident, you can seek to recover 100% of your losses from just a single at-fault party. As a result, it may not be necessary to identify all of the parties that were at fault in your multi-car accident.

However, available insurance coverage and various other factors can play important roles as well. Even proving a single party’s fault in a multi-car accident can be complicated. In order to ensure that you recover maximum compensation, you should discuss your case with an attorney promptly.

Contact O’Connor & Partners, PLLC Today

Were you injured in a multi-car accident in New York? If so, our attorneys can use their experience to fight for maximum compensation on your behalf.

Please call (845) 303-8777 today for a free consultation. Our car accident lawyers serve clients in Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, and other areas of New York.

by O'Connor & Partners, PLLC
Published on

Posted in: Car Accidents