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Proving fault in multi-vehicle accidents in California

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2024 | Blog, Car Accidents |

When a collision includes multiple vehicles, determining fault can become complex. Crash dynamics, contributory negligence and traffic violations all play a role.

Understanding these key challenges is important for assessing liability.

Sequence of events

In multi-car crashes, a chain reaction often occurs as vehicles collide in a series of impacts. Figuring out the sequence of events and which impact caused what damage can be difficult. Investigators must analyze physical evidence, such as skid marks and vehicle damage patterns. Witness accounts are also crucial. It takes meticulous analysis to unravel the chain reaction.

Contributory negligence

Unlike some states, California follows a “comparative negligence” system. This means multiple parties might share fault in a collision. Even if one driver was negligent, others may share responsibility too. The comparative negligence doctrine considers whether actions by other drivers contributed to the incident. Determining these percentages is complex in multi-vehicle mishaps.

Traffic violations

Right-of-way issues add further complications in multi-car crashes. Investigators must determine if any drivers violated traffic laws and failed to yield properly. However, with vehicles approaching from different directions, it can be challenging to decide who had the right of way. Red light violations, illegal turns and other infractions may also contribute.

Statistics show that fatal collisions from multi-vehicle accidents increased by 16% in 2021. As urban areas grow more congested, these complex, chain-reaction accidents become more common and more significant. Understanding the key challenges in assessing fault is crucial for determining liability. These are a few of the most important elements to understand when considering the liability associated with these accidents.