available in: English
In addition to the dramatic pileups that make the evening news, smaller accidents involving three, four, or five cars happen across the country every day. Because of the large number of vehicles involved in these accidents, establishing fault can be tricky. Here are the guidelines for determining fault for multi-vehicle pileups in Texas:
Determining the Details of the Crash
Chain-reaction accidents are complicated because there are so many variables at play. In most rear-end collisions, the driver of the car that slams into the rear end of another vehicle is at fault. In a multi-vehicle pileup, however, any driver can be at fault. In fact, more than one driver is often held accountable.
In order to establish fault, investigators must look at the details of the crash and how each impact happened. For example, if a vehicle stops in the road causing three cars behind it to slam into each other, the three drivers at the end of the chain may be held at fault for following too closely. If a stopped car is hit and pushed into another car in front of it, the driver of that car will likely not be at fault because they didn’t contribute anything to the accident.
The Role of Negligence in Establishing Fault
To determine fault for a multi-vehicle pileup, investigators will try to determine who was negligent. Negligence is defined as the failure to exercise the care that a reasonable or prudent person would in the circumstances. The following are the most common negligent actions that lead to multi-vehicle car accidents.
- Distracted Driving – Several actions fall under the definition of distracted driving, including texting, putting on makeup, talking to someone else in the car, or anything else that takes your attention away from the road.
- Reckless Driving – Reckless driving involves any maneuvers a driver makes that may be considered reckless under the driving conditions. For example, driving the speed limit when the roads are icy may be considered reckless driving since most reasonable drivers would proceed slowly in such poor conditions.
- Disobeying Traffic Laws – Running a red light and speeding are examples of disobeying traffic laws that often lead to chain reaction collisions.
- Driving Under the Influence – Driving under the influence of any substance may be considered negligent, even if the substance is prescribed. Drugs and alcohol are common contributors to multi-vehicle accidents.
Establishing negligence is important when determining who is at fault in a pileup. For this reason, negligence is often a matter of great scrutiny and debate.
Shared Fault for Chain Reaction Collisions
It takes a perfect storm to create a massive pileup, which means that several drivers may be at fault. When this happens, attorneys and insurance agents determine – and sometimes fight over – how much each individual is at fault. One driver may be deemed to be 70 percent at fault, whereas another driver may only get 30 percent of the blame, depending on the role each played in causing the accident.
There is no limit on the number of drivers that can share fault. In some cases, every driver involved may carry some of the blame.
There are three main ways that states determine who should be held accountable for paying damages after an accident:
- Comparative Negligence – In comparative negligence states, drivers are held liable for damages depending on their percentage of fault. For example, if a driver is 60 percent responsible for an accident, they would be responsible for paying for 60 percent of the damages
- Modified Comparative Negligence – This is similar to comparative negligence; however, a driver must be less than 50 percent responsible for the accident in order to recoup money from another driver. If you’re more than 50 percent responsible, you will be responsible for paying your own damages.
- Pure Contributory Negligence – Under this law, you must be completely without blame in order to recoup compensation from the other driver.
Texas uses the principle of modified comparative negligence, which means you must be under the 50 percent threshold in order to recoup your losses from another driver.
If you’ve been injured in a multi-vehicle pileup, you need Juan Hernandez – a board-certified personal injury attorney – on your side. Only 2% of Texas attorneys have this certification. Contact the law offices of Juan Hernandez to see how he can help you with your case.