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Who is At Fault in a Car Accident with Multiple Vehicles?

Posted on September 30, 2022

After an accident involving multiple vehicles, determining fault can be challenging, and more than one driver is often responsible. Therefore, who is at fault will depend on the facts of each case and requires a thorough investigation. However, here are a few significant factors to consider.

Modified Comparative Negligence in Texas

When deciding fault for a car accident, Texas follows the rule of “modified comparative negligence.” Under this system, each party involved is assigned a percentage of fault. As long as you are 50% or less responsible for the collision, you can recover compensation, but your percentage will reduce your award. If you are 51% or more at fault, you cannot hold another party responsible and must rely on your own auto insurance coverage or pay for your losses out-of-pocket.

For example, if you are awarded $100,000 and found 30% responsible for the multi-vehicle accident, you will receive 70% of your award or, in this example, $70,000. On the other hand, if you are 51% or more responsible, you will not receive any compensation.

How an Insurer Might Assign Liability

Here are some scenarios that show how an auto insurance company might assign fault for a multiple vehicle accident involving three drivers (A, B, and C):

  • Driver C causes an accident by crashing into another vehicle (Driver B) that is stopped at a red light, causing Driver B to collide into the vehicle (Driver A) in front of them. In this case, Driver C will likely be 100 percent at fault for the accident and liable for each driver’s damages.
  • The middle car (Driver B) causes the first accident by running into a car in front of them (Driver A). A vehicle (Driver C) behind Driver B does not have enough time to stop since Driver B stopped so suddenly and ran into Driver B. Driver B will likely hold the majority of the fault, if not all, for Driver A’s damages and possibly Driver C’s. However, suppose Driver C was following too closely. In that case, they will likely be partially at fault and responsible for Driver B’s damage to the rear of their vehicle and a portion of their other losses, as well as a small portion of Driver A’s damages.

The front vehicle in a multi-car accident is rarely at fault. However, there may be an instance in which the middle car can prove they rear-ended the front car because the driver suddenly slammed on their brakes to avoid a collision. Then, Texas’s rule of comparative negligence will apply and may distribute liability differently.

Types of Evidence That Decides Fault

When investigating your accident, an insurance adjuster representing each party will investigate and look for evidence of negligence before deciding fault. Examples of potential evidence of fault in a multi-vehicle accident include:

  • The location of the damage to the vehicles involved.
  • The final resting positions of the vehicles after impact.
  • Skid marks or any debris on the road.
  • Eyewitness testimony.
  • Cell phone recording or video surveillance footage of the accident.
  • Driver statements taken at the scene.
  • The police report, which includes the officer’s opinion on how the accident occurred and who was to blame.
  • Cell phone records, which can prove a driver was on their phone at the time of the accident.
  • Food wrappers or receipts that show the driver may have been distracted.

It is crucial to consult a Waco accident attorney immediately after a car accident with multiple vehicles. They have the resources to investigate, collect evidence, and hire experts, if necessary, to ensure that fault is assigned correctly.