Fault and Liability in Mutliple Vehicle Car Accidents

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A single vehicle may cause either a simple accident or multiple crashes. Multiple crash often results when a vehicle involved in an accident affects many vehicles in the process.

Proving Fault in Multiple Car Accidents

Proving fault in multiple vehicle traffic crash can be difficult, as not all drivers in a multiple crash accident are responsible for the occurrence of the incident, the proximate cause of the accident must be identified to determine which car is at fault. Only when the negligent party is identified that innocent car owners or drivers can impute liability and claim for damages.

Rear End Collisions at Fault

In some cases of multiple crashes, rear end collisions often are the cause. It happens when the car behind bumps the car in front. If no car is in front of the bumped car then the incident stops there. However, if the car in front which was rear ended also bumped another vehicle in front and so on, a chain accident occurs.

Comparative and Contributory Negligence in Car Accidents

In rear end accidents the principles of comparative and contributory negligence applies depending on the surrounding circumstances.

Comparative negligence

In multiple crashes, no one person could be solely attributed to the crash. Chances are each vehicle has contributed to it in one way or another no matter how little it is. Hence, the determination of who is liable is even harder. But will this mean that the parties will no longer be liable for damages? Comparative negligence is a partial legal defense that can reduce the amount of damages which a claimant can recover in a negligence-based claim. The reduction is based on the fact that the claimant’s negligence contributed to the cause of injury. For instance, one party has been 25 percent at fault for the accident because of some minor negligence while the other party is 75 percent negligent. The party which is the most negligent will be liable but only up to 75 percent of the total damages.

However, not all forms of negligence would operate to reduce the claim for damages. There is a type of negligence which does not bar recovery of the entire amount of damages.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is a total defense in tort cases.  It is made applicable to a situation where the claimant, through his own negligence, contributed to the harm he suffered. For instance, a pedestrian crosses the street negligently and is struck by a driver who is negligently driving his car. This defense, however, is not available if the conduct of the party at fault amounted to malicious or intentional wrongdoing rather than ordinary negligence.

If you happen to be involved in a multiple crash, getting the services of a personal injury lawyer is recommended to navigate your way through the intricacies of car accident law.