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Identifying Fault In A Multi-Car Accident

By Steven Miller
Senior Partner

When two vehicles get into a collision, establishing liability is relatively straightforward. The issue is far more complicated when multiple automobiles are involved. Not only do more vehicles equate to more drivers, but potentially more causes of the overall accident. Sorting through these wrecks, and determining who is to blame and why, takes experienced legal advocacy. That’s why Queens car accident victims can count on Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C.

Why do multi-car accidents happen?

Victims of any type of personal injury, including automobile accidents, have the responsibility of demonstrating fault. Multi-vehicle accidents often start out with a primary collision, followed by additional wrecks. These subsequent wrecks may be due to the cause of the first accident, or because drivers were trying to avoid the crash but failed.

These are some common causes of multi-car accidents:

  • Speeding and other traffic violations
  • Aggressive driving, such as tailgating
  • Inclement weather (e.g. rain, fog, and snow)
  • Driver fatigue
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Road hazards and unsafe roadways
  • Vehicle defects

The following parties may be held liable for the accident, depending on the circumstances:

  • Numerous drivers
  • Owners of the vehicles
  • Employers, if the automobile involved was a company vehicle
  • Vehicle manufacturers and components (e.g. brakes) suppliers
  • Mechanics and repair shops
  • Construction crews (e.g. where the accident is due to unsafe construction zones)
  • Governmental entities responsible for building and maintaining roads

What is comparative fault?

Comparative fault seeks to establish the relative liability of all parties involved in a car accident, which then results in a percentage of blame assigned to each at-fault party. This percentage must add up to 100% and will affect the amount of damages the plaintiff can receive.

For example, say the plaintiff was determined to be 30% responsible for the accident, and the damages were calculated to be $100,000. That amount would then be reduced by 30%, or $30,000, netting $70,000 in damages to the victim.

New York is one of a handful of states that operate on a pure comparative negligence model. That means a plaintiff can recover even if he or she was 99% responsible for the accident. However, the damages would then be reduced by 99%.

How do courts determine the cause(s) of multi-car accidents?

All of the above causes, and more, could be responsible for a multi-vehicle crash. Making the situation even more complex, there might be several causes that can be attributed to several parties. For instance, one driver may have been speeding, while another experienced brake problems due to manufacturing defects.

One way to establish fault in a multi-car crash is to retain the services of an accident reconstructionist. This is an expert witness, someone with technical or scientific knowledge about a complicated subject who can explain it to a jury. An accident reconstructionist can parse through the evidence and present a reasonable explanation of how the accident occurred.

This, in turn, helps juries assign liability percentages to the at-fault parties.

How We Serve Victims of Multi-Car Accidents

Our firm has a network of reliable expert witnesses, not just with respect to accident reconstruction but for other matters such as calculating future damages. We understand the laws that apply to multi-car accidents and we know how to negotiate with insurance companies to demand the compensation that victims deserve. We are also prepared to defend victims when at-fault parties attempt to shift blame for the accident to them.

If you or a loved one have been injured, put the legal experience of Miller, Montiel, & Strano, P.C. to work for you. Call today.

About the Author
Steven Miller, Esq. is the founding member and Senior Partner in Miller, Montiel & Strano, P.C. Mr. Miller’s extensive career as a trial attorney spans five decades. He tries cases for the catastrophically injured victims of construction site accidents, motor vehicle and premises accidents caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Miller is a detail oriented, tenacious attorney committed to achieving the maximum results for his clients; he has obtained numerous seven figure verdicts and settlements.