Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.

Who’s At Fault in a Multi-Car Crash?

When multiple vehicles are involved in an accident, whether 3 or 103, determining blame can sometimes be challenging. Liability depends on what – and / or who – caused the accident, and if factors such as bad weather, speed, or alcohol played a role. In many multi-vehicle collisions, experts must recreate the accident through a process called accident reconstruction to determine who is to blame.

The vast majority of motor vehicle accidents are caused by negligence, and many multi-vehicle accidents are caused by multiple counts of negligence. For example, if car A is speeding on wet roads and hydroplanes, crashing into car B, it seems logical that car A is at fault. But what if car B failed to see car A approaching because car B’s driver was texting? As a result, car B crashes into car C. If the driver of car C is injured and claims to have seen the driver of car B texting while driving, the driver of car B could be partially liable, even though the initial accident was caused by car A. Determining fault in a multi-vehicle collision can be an extremely complicated process, especially when large pile-up accidents occur. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, contact a Boston injury attorney today.

In multi-vehicle accidents, drivers at the front are often asked how many bumps they felt. In a three-car collision, for example, if the front driver felt one impact, it is likely that the rear car is at fault. However, if the front driver felt two impacts, it is more likely that the middle car hit the front car, then the rear car hit the middle car, causing the second impact. In this case, the middle car will likely take the blame. However, the rear car – and even the front car – can be liable under certain circumstances.

How Does Accident Reconstruction Work?

Following a multi-vehicle accident, accident reconstruction experts are often called in to examine the evidence, including the number of “bumps” felt by vehicles at the front of the accident, and witness statements. In addition, experts will use police reports, photographs of the scene and damages, and statements from the drivers to determine fault. If multiple people are found liable, the next step is to figure out who pays, and how much each person is responsible for. Contact a MA auto accident lawyer today.

Comparative Negligence or Contributory Negligence?

Some states use comparative negligence to determine what percentage of damages a responsible party will pay, while other states use contributory negligence.

  • Comparative: When the driver is found to be at least 25 percent at fault, any damages recovered will be reduced by that amount.
  • Contributory: When the driver is found to be even one percent at fault, they cannot recover any damages.

In Massachusetts, we have a modified version of comparative negligence. MA uses the 51 percent rule, which means the driver can only recover if they were less than 51 percent at fault. If the driver was 51 percent or more at fault, they cannot recover any damages. In addition, the damages recovered will be reduced by the driver’s share of the blame. For example, if the driver was 15 percent at fault for the accident and was awarded $100,000 in damages, the total payout would be reduced by 15 percent and the driver would receive an award of $85,000.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers Serving All of Massachusetts

If you have been injured in any type of auto accident, the skilled injury team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. Our experienced lawyers have been protecting the rights of MA accident and injury victims for more than 50 years. If you have been harmed due to another’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your