Who Is Responsible for a Three-Car Accident?

three-car accident

Navigating the legal aspects of a car accident can be a daunting task, especially when multiple vehicles are involved. Unlike two-car accidents, where liability is often clear-cut, a three-car accident involves multiple factors and potential contributing parties. Additionally, dealing with the aftermath of a three-car auto wreck will also include the other parties involved in the wreck, their insurance companies and their attorneys. This alone makes it extremely difficult to handle on your own. 

In this blog, the car accident attorneys at Lerner and Rowe explain what causes three-car auto crashes, how fault is determined, factors that influence fault and why you need a personal injury attorney after a three-car wreck. 

Three-Car Accident Causes

Three-car accidents are typically caused by a chain reaction where an initial collision between two vehicles triggers a secondary collision involving a third car. Multi-car accidents or “pile-ups” can result in catastrophic injuries or even death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were over 9,000 multi-car crash fatalities in 2023. 

There are a number of factors that can cause a three-car auto wreck, like: 

Determining Fault in a Three-Car Accident

This can be one of the most challenging aspects of a three-car accident and one of the reasons why you should consult with an attorney. Determining fault in a three-car accident can be complex, as there may be multiple factors that contributed to the crash. Often, the driver of the car that caused the initial rear-end collision is considered liable as liability is typically presumed in these types of accidents absent extenuating circumstances.

The laws in your state, along with the circumstances of the crash, will aid in determining fault in a three-car accident. In at-fault states like Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico, the driver who is found liable is responsible for the financial burden of covering property damage and injuries sustained in the accident.  

At-fault states are not necessarily all or nothing; comparative negligence laws can lead to an outcome in which one driver is found to be 40% at fault and the other driver is 60% at fault, for example.

An example of comparative negligence in a three-car rear-end collision might consist of a car sitting at a stoplight that is rear-ended by a drunk driver. Then, a distracted driver hits the two cars, causing a multi-car wreck. Under comparative negligence, the drunk driver and distracted driver would each be held responsible. The drunk driver would be responsible for the initial rear-end collision, while the distracted driver would be responsible for the secondary collision that exacerbated the situation. The court would determine the percentage of fault for each driver based on the factors that contributed to the accident.

Factors That Can Influence Liability in a Three-Car Wreck 

Along with causes, there are some additional factors that help determine liability in three-car accidents, including: 

  • The actions of each driver: specific actions of each driver leading up to the accident are crucial in determining fault. This includes factors such as speed, following distance, lane changes and braking behavior.
  • Traffic laws and regulations: violations of traffic laws and regulations can play a significant role in assigning liability. For example, if a driver is found to be speeding or running a red light, it strengthens the case against them.
  • Witness testimony: these accounts can provide valuable information about the events leading up to the accident, helping to establish fault.
  • Physical evidence: physical evidence, such as skid marks, debris and damage to the vehicles can also help reconstruct the accident and determine fault.
  • Video evidence: traffic camera footage, videos and photos captured by bystanders and those involved in the wreck can be reviewed to determine fault. 

Contact a Car Accident Attorney at Lerner and Rowe 

A three-car accident can be a complex and stressful situation and it is important to seek the help of a personal injury attorney to protect your rights. If you were in a three-car accident, the legal team at Lerner and Rowe can help you obtain compensation for your injuries, property damage and suffering. 

We have a proven track record of winning billion-dollar results for injury victims across the nation. Our team is committed to winning your case and handling your legal battle so you can focus on recovery.  

To start your free case consultation, get in touch with us today. You can reach us at 844-977-1900. We are also available via LiveChat or by case review form.

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.