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News Stories

Who Pays In a 3-Car Accident?

Vehicle accidents are not uncommon throughout the state of California. In many cases, an accident will only involve two vehicles. Even though it can be challenging to determine who pays in a two-car crash, most of these claims are resolved after some investigation. However, what happens when a three-car collision occurs? Who will pay the bills in a crash involving this many vehicles?

To answer this question, we have to look at liability, and we also need to examine something called comparative negligence. The reality is that there may be multiple parties that pay after a three-car collision occurs.

Determining Liability is the First Step

When a three-car accident occurs, there will likely be many different sides to the story about who caused the incident. The reality is that a three-car accident could be caused by only one driver. However, it is also entirely possible that all three drivers played a role in causing the vehicle accident.

Just like a regular vehicle accident involving two vehicles, a three-car collision needs to be thoroughly investigated in order to properly determine liability. This investigation will include gathering various types of evidence, such as the following:

  • Any photographic evidence from the scene of the crash
  • Any available video surveillance footage from nearby cameras
  • Statements from eyewitnesses to the crash
  • Statements from other drivers and passengers
  • Vehicle “black box” data
  • Mobile device data

Law enforcement officials, insurance carriers, and attorneys will all need to conduct an investigation and examine the evidence that has been gathered in order to properly determine liability. Just like in a traditional two-car crash, whichever party is determined to be liable will be responsible for paying compensation to the other parties involved.

However, there are times when more than one driver is at fault for a crash. When there is shared liability, we have to look at comparative negligence laws.

How Does Comparative Negligence Work in California?

In the state of California, vehicle accident liability is handled based on a “pure comparative negligence” system. This that there could be multiple parties at fault for an accident, and even at-fault parties can still recover compensation after a crash occurs. In fact, even if a driver is up to 99% at fault for a collision, they can still recover compensation due to the 1% of fault that was not theirs.

Under the pure comparative negligence system in California, the total amount of compensation a person receives will be reduced based on their percentage of fault. Therefore, if a three-car collision was caused by multiple parties at the scene, no single party will receive all of the compensation for the incident.

Is an Attorney Necessary for These Cases?

If you or somebody you know has been involved in a three-car collision, you may very well need to seek legal representation to ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to. These cases can become challenging, often because of the sheer number of people involved. There will be three insurance carriers and possibly three legal teams. You need to be sure that your rights are upheld throughout this entire process. After all, the last thing you need is one or both of the other parties trying to place all of the liability on you.

When you have a San Bernardino car accident attorney working by your side, you will have an advocate who can bring the resources necessary to fully investigate the claim, determine liability, and help you secure the compensation you need.