Whether you were directly involved in the impact, or one of many other vehicles dented up in the process, it can be tricky and frustrating to determine who is at fault for which damages after a multiple vehicle car accident. Untangling this scenario can be a long and sometimes tedious process.
A multi-car accident can occur at slow speeds or at high speeds. Slow speed, chain reaction accidents frequently happen at stop lights when one vehicle fails to stop in time. At higher speeds, multi-vehicle accidents are often triggered by a driver losing control, resulting in numerous separate, yet interrelated, collisions.
Some common causes of multi-vehicle accidents include:
- Excessive speed
- Failing to stop when required
- Distracted driving
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Drowsy/fatigued driving
- Failing to slow down for construction zones.
- Weather effected conditions
The Issue of Negligence in A Multi-Vehicle Accident
Multi-vehicle accidents can be challenging from a legal perspective. In a multi-vehicle accident, you often have more than one negligent party. While one party’s negligence may have initiated the collision, one or more other drivers may also have contributed. In that case, you may have numerous defendants and insurance companies trying to decide who is to blame. This can frustrate a victim who just wants to be compensated for his or her injuries.
Massachusetts uses the 51 percent comparative negligence rule, which is similar to several other states. Under the rule, plaintiffs can only recover if their share of the blame was less than 51 percent. If plaintiffs are 51 percent or more at fault, then they cannot recover at all, with only a few exceptions.
e.g. Imagine that you are involved in a four-car collision and that you sustained injuries totaling $50,000. It is ultimately decided that vehicle A was 40 percent responsible for your injuries, vehicle B was 20 percent responsible, vehicle C was 30 percent responsible, and you were 10 percent responsible. This means that you are entitled to collect 90 percent of the total value of your damages, or $45,000 ($50,000 x .90). Vehicle A will be required to pay $20,000 ($50,000 x .40), vehicle B will be required to pay $10,000 ($50,000 x .20) and vehicle C will be responsible for $15,000 ($50,000 x .30), which together equal $45,000. The remaining $5,000 represents your 10 percent share.