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Who Pays Damages in a Three-Car Accident?

Most vehicle accidents involve only one or two vehicles, but there are certainly times when three or more vehicles are involved in an accident. However, this can complicate the process of recovering compensation because it muddies the issue of liability. Without properly determining the liability of the drivers involved, it can be difficult to determine which insurance carrier pays what when it comes to injuries and property damage. Here, we want to examine how liability in a three-car accident is determined.

Determining Liability After a Multi-Car Collision

The first step towards understanding how damages will be paid after a three-car collision is determining liability. Understanding who caused the accident is not always easy, even when only two vehicles are involved. When there are three vehicles, this can become a case of three different drivers pointing the finger at everyone else for causing the incident. There will be an extensive investigation into the evidence to determine what truly happened.

Much of this evidence can be gathered at the scene of the incident, including photographs, possible video surveillance from nearby cameras or dash cams, as well as statements from drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses. There will be an examination of the police report related to the incident as well.

This may not always put together a complete picture of liability, but there are ways to gather additional types of evidence. This can include black box data from the vehicles involved, mobile device data, and additional surveillance footage from businesses or homes nearby.

The ultimate goal is to put together as clear a picture as possible as to which driver or drivers were at fault for the incident. In rare cases, a Riverside accident attorney may need to work with a skilled accident reconstruction expert who can use 3D computer modeling as well as the evidence gathered to help show insurance carriers and/or a personal injury jury what likely occurred.

Understanding Pure Comparative Negligence

In some cases, there will be only one driver at fault for causing a three-car collision. When that happens, the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier will be responsible for paying compensation for the other parties’ injuries or property damage losses.

However, in the event more than one party was at fault for the incident, liability will have to be apportioned based on the pure comparative negligence laws in California. Individuals in this state can still recover compensation even if they are partially responsible for causing their own injuries, even if they are up to 99% at fault for the incident. However, compensation will be reduced based on the individual’s percentage of fault for the incident. 

For example, if a person sustains $10,000 worth of Hendry and property expenses, but they were 30% responsible for causing the incident, then they would only receive $7,000 in compensation.

It is imperative to work with a skilled attorney who has experience in handling these claims if you have been involved in a three-car accident. An attorney will help gather the evidence needed to prove liability and then work through any instances of shared fault to help understand how much compensation should be paid.