Multiple car accidents

Multiple car accidents are sometimes referred to as chain-reaction car accidents as they typically involve one initial accident which then leads to another.

Three car accidents can be especially frustrating for the drivers involved. It isn’t always easy to determine who was at fault and who should pay for what.  

In this post, we’ll cover some common multi-car accident scenarios, discuss the legal doctrine of comparative negligence, go over how fault may be apportioned in multi-car wrecks, and talk about some factors that may influence whether you have to pay. 

Multi-car accident scenarios

In Florida, multi-car accidents typically occur following one of these scenarios:

  • Car 3 rear-ends Car 2, sending it into Car 1.
  • Car 2 rear-ends Car 1 and Car 3 then rear-ends Car 2.

While the most common multi-car accident is a three-car accident, sometimes additional cars are involved. 

An additional car could be a part of the rear-ending chain-reaction. Up north, nearly every winter we hear about huge multi-car accidents caused by ice on the highway. 

One car could hit multiple cars. This typically happens when a drunk driver sideswipes a group of parked cars. 

There are countless other scenarios for multi-car accidents. 

In a chain-reaction car accident, who’s at fault?

The State of Florida uses a legal doctrine of comparative negligence

Under this doctrine, negligence is apportioned amongst parties, essentially assigning fault by percentages.

For instance, you may be in a car accident in which the courts determine your injuries to be worth $100,000. However, under comparative negligence, the courts may determine your negligence to have been 20%. This essentially means you were 20% responsible for the accident. You then would only be entitled to $80,000 in damages, not the full $100,000. 

Who is at fault in a rear-end collision involving 3 cars?

In a 3 car chain-reaction rear-end accident in Florida, negligence is typically apportioned primarily to the car that caused the initial accident.

So if Car 3 rear-ended Car 2, sending it into Car 1, then Car 3 would likely be responsible for most, if not all, of the damages.

In our other common scenario, in which Car 2 rear-ends Car 1, and Car 3 then rear-ends Car 2, it is likely that Car 1 would have very little negligence, Car 2 would have either the most or the same negligence as Car 3. 

Car 2 would likely be at fault as they hit Car 1. Car 3 would likely be at fault as they hit Car 2. However, apportioning damage is not always this simple. We are looking to assign fault or determine liability. That can change based on numerous circumstances.

Some common examples of liability in a three-car accident may include:

  1. Any driver speeding
  2. Any driver being under the influence
  3. Any driver being distracted
  4. Any driver tail-gating (or following too closely)
  5. Any car not signaling or having operating tail lights

It could be that Car 1 was speeding, distracted, and suddenly slammed on the brakes. Car 2 then might not be able to stop and may rear-end Car 1 and Car 3 might hit Car 2. In this scenario, Car 1 likely would be apportioned greater liability. However, the courts might determine that Cars 2 and 3 also bear liability if they also were speeding and following too closely. 

Determining comparative negligence in Florida car accidents

Now that we have a better understanding of how fault is legally apportioned in multiple car accidents, you may be wondering how they determine the apportions or fault. 

While fault is ultimately decided by a judge, jury, or by attorneys in a settlement, the final apportion is always based on available evidence.

Car crash evidence may include:

  1. Police report(s)
  2. Traffic violations and citations
  3. Witness statements
  4. Traffic camera footage
  5. Dashboard camera footage
  6. Damage at the scene of the accident
  7. Damage to vehicles involved in the accident
  8. Health records
  9. Physician statements

Florida car accident lawyer

If you were involved in a three-car accident in Florida, you may need a car accident attorney. At The Landau Law Group, our experienced personal injury attorneys offer free case evaluations. Contact us online or call us at (866)703-4878.