Multi Car Accident in California: Who Is Responsible?

multi car accident

Did you know that the largest multi-vehicle accident in the U.S. happened in Los Angeles, California, on November 3, 2002, involving 216 vehicles? While a massive pile-up like this is rare, this type of accident involving several vehicles occurs every hour of every day in California. This is due mostly to the sheer volume of traffic on the busiest highways and freeways in the state.

If you or someone you know gets involved in a simple two-car rear-end accident at a red light, it is generally easier to know who is at fault. However, it may be difficult to determine who is at fault if this collision involves other elements, such as left-turn, side-swipe, T-bone, or accidents involving three or more cars. 

Establishing fault is necessary if you intend to claim compensation against the responsible party’s insurance provider or later file a case in court. In which case, you need the help of a personal injury attorney to assist you in your multi car accident claim.

Who Is Responsible In A Multi Car Accident? 

The driver who is responsible for a multi-car accident is the first driver who fails to exercise due and ordinary care. Liability is shown by the at-fault party’s violations of the California Vehicle Code and other traffic rules, laws, and ordinances. 

However, it is not that simple. The driver’s negligence is not always apparent. Sometimes, the chain reaction happens so fast that even eyewitnesses cannot clearly catch what exactly happened.

Establishing who is at fault in a multi-car accident in California is difficult. Thus, it is important to investigate the case professionally to make sure that your theory is correct and that you end up getting the right compensation for your full recovery. This can be achieved with an accident lawyer assisting you from the beginning until the settlement of your case.

Determining Fault In A Multi-Car Crash: 10 Key Evidence

To prove who is responsible for a multi-vehicle crash, evidence should be gathered, testimonies should be taken, and relevant reports from authorities should be secured. Here are 10 relevant pieces of evidence that should be considered in determining who is at fault in a multi car accident.

1. Traffic Collision Report 

After an accident, it is necessary to call 911 to get medical help and to allow the police to document the incident. The police report generated will include the information of the parties involved, where the accident happened, the parties’ statements, passengers’ statements, if any, and how the accident occurred. 

While the police report may indicate the cause of the chain-reaction crash, it is not conclusive because the investigation that the police conducted may not be as extensive as looking at all aspects of the incident. Likewise, for instances where a driver or a passerby called 911 but the police did not respond, the other items below will help in determining who is at fault in a multi-car accident in California.

2. Photos of the vehicle and the area of damage 

While the police report may also indicate if the police officers who responded took photos, it is essential to encourage the parties to take photos and accident scene evidence themselves if they can. This is because the photos showing the property damage after the multi-car accident are useful to analyze the cause.

3. CCTV or dashcam video footage 

The area where the accident occurred, or the shops nearby, may have security cameras that captured the multi-vehicle collision. Also, the drivers involved may have dashcams in their cars, or other drivers on the road at the time of the accident may volunteer their traffic cam footage. These records contain proof of what happened and who might have been at fault. 

4. Photos of the scene of the accident 

If the victim or injured party is able to take photos of the scene, include photos of skid marks or debris from the damage to the vehicles. Knowing the exact location of the incident and taking photos can help capture what the area looks like and what road signs may be present that the responsible party may have ignored, leading to the collision. You can also hire accident reconstruction experts to simulate the incident and provide a more accurate, scientific take on the collision. 

5. Eyewitness accounts 

There are some cases when eyewitnesses volunteer their contact details to the victim. For this, your personal injury lawyer can take the witness’s statement to be included as evidence in determining and establishing the liability of negligent drivers and the percentage of fault.

6. Event data recorder (EDR) data 

The EDR or the black box is installed in more recent car models, and it records the pre-crash system status of the vehicle. It could then show data of the car’s speed, if the driver hit the brakes, whether the airbags deployed, the gear selection, or whether the seatbelt was worn. If this data is available for all the cars involved, it can help show what was happening before the crash.

7. Parties’ statements 

The police report can contain this information. However, since it is taken while the party is in a state of shock, it is possible that the information given can be incomplete or inaccurate. Worse, if the party sustained a brain injury, they may not remember the details well. Getting these statements can also be used to check inconsistencies or if a party is lying or making false accusations. 

8. Recordings of 911 calls 

Since it is possible that in an accident, not only one or all the parties called 911, the details provided here by the person who witnessed the crash can help clarify how the multi-car collision happened.

9. Whether a driver was intoxicated or was distracted while driving 

The police report can also indicate if the at-fault party was drinking, under the influence of substances, or engaged in reckless driving. This information is necessary to show liability as they are clear violations of the law. 

10. Bodily injury sustained 

To determine a multi-car accident in California, the injuries sustained can show how the crash occurred. Don’t downplay the situation if you only see minor injuries as some negative effects are invisible and manifest only after a few hours or days. Most brain injuries are not apparent without a more thorough evaluation.  

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

After determining who is responsible for a multi-car collision, you or your personal injury lawyer can file a claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. After filing, your case will be investigated using the above-mentioned factors to consider. 

Once it is filed, your multi-car accident lawyer will investigate the case so that the liability of the responsible party will be established clearly. Then, once the claim is ready for demand, your lawyer will negotiate with the claim adjuster from the insurance company for you to get fair compensation. 

While this is all happening, you will get the medical attention you require to recover sooner. When filing the case in court is needed, it will be litigated, and your accident attorney will take care of it.

Involved In A Multi-Vehicle Crash? Call Justin For Justice

Farahi Law Firm is a personal injury law firm that will help you get the maximum value out of the at-fault party’s auto accident insurance. Our compassionate lawyers will competently represent you in your multi-car accident in California and get you the medical treatment you need and the money you deserve. Don’t worry about medical expenses and property damage costs. You will not pay any fee unless we win! Call us today at (844) 824-2955 for your free consultation. We speak English and Spanish.