In a Multi-Vehicle Crash, Is the Car with More Damage at Fault?

A multi-vehicle accident involves three or more cars. It’s often caused by a chain reaction in which the first car collides with another vehicle that hits the next, triggering a series of crashes. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon on California’s busy roads. Establishing fault in such a situation can be difficult. Oftentimes, the extent of the damage to each vehicle helps determine liability. But is the car with more damage at fault all the time?

The Driver Who Initiated the First Impact Is Usually At Fault

By default, the driver whose vehicle caused the first impact is to blame. But their presence alone isn’t enough to determine fault. A thorough investigation is often required to analyze the chain of events. 

Driver 1 may be at fault if they weren’t paying attention and didn’t brake in time. Driver 2 can be to blame if they stop without warning and cause the first driver to collide with them. Meanwhile, Driver 3 may rear-end Driver 1 because they were speeding. Other drivers may fail to stop in time for various reasons.

A multi-vehicle crash scenario can be quite complex. Distracted driving often plays a role. Texting, speeding, and reckless driving put many people in harm’s way on crowded roads. A driver may also be tailgating or fail to signal when turning. But it’s not only drivers who may be at fault. Public agencies can share the blame if they fail to install/maintain traffic signs or clear road obstacles that cause drivers to swerve or stop short.

In some cases, there may be little or no liability. A driver who loses consciousness due to a medical condition may not be at fault. Weather conditions or natural hazards can trigger accidents for which there’s no one to blame.

The Damage Can Tell the Story

The type and severity of the damage to a car can provide evidence of:

  • How fast or slow the driver was moving before the impact
  • The force of an impact on a vehicle
  • The direction from which a car was hit
  • Whether a driver was distracted or impaired
  • Whether they had enough time to brake or stop

The location of the damage often provides important evidence. For example, if it indicates a rear-end collision, investigators can determine which car was at fault. Usually, but not always, it’s the driver who hits another from behind and has front-end damage.

But the damage doesn’t tell everything. An accident scene is often dynamic. Changing conditions can erase key evidence, so take pictures as soon as possible after a crash. Road crews will clean up debris and emergency responders may have to move vehicles. The weather and lighting conditions may also change. 

However, the position of vehicles involved, location of damage and debris, road conditions, and the length of skid marks are preserved in photographs. Therefore, photos of an accident can be crucial for an insurance claim and in determining who is at fault.

Evidence Is Crucial in a Multi-Vehicle Crash

Evidence at the scene, eyewitness accounts, and police reports can determine if the car with more damage is at fault. But the level of damage doesn’t always correlate with the severity of injuries. The force of an accident can be absorbed and dispersed in ways that harm people more than the vehicles they’re in. Even a vehicle’s safety equipment, including an airbag, can contribute to an injury if it’s not functioning correctly.

Accident reconstruction is an important step, as the cause of an accident or injury isn’t always obvious. Several factors can contribute to a crash and the harm it causes. Investigators may consider the technical specifications of the vehicles, the types of injuries, and other observations and use software to simulate and analyze the accident. 

The car with more damage is not always at fault for a multi-vehicle crash. Reconstructing an accident helps investigators and lawyers determine how it occurred and who may be at fault. 

Contact a Lawyer Who Can Determine If the Car with More Damage Is At Fault

Hire an attorney if you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence. Multi-vehicle crashes occur in a wide range of circumstances. Investigators must look at numerous factors. It often takes time to reconstruct an accident and determine who caused it, so it helps to be represented by a skilled personal injury attorney.

Call Jacob Today

Multi-vehicle crashes often cause serious injuries in California. An accident caused by a negligent driver can lead to time out of work, costly medical bills, and physical and emotional impairments. At The Law Offices of Jacob Emrani, our goal is to get you the compensation you need and deserve. We’ve recovered millions of dollars in damages in auto accident cases and will fight for your rights. Call (888) 952-2952 for your free consultation.

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