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Who's Responsible in a Multi-Car Pileup?

It’s hard enough to determine who was at fault in a car accident, especially when it comes down to a “he said, she said” argument. With all of the factors potentially involved with a multi-car pile up, it can be a challenge to identify who was a fault and who should be held liable. It requires careful analysis by an experienced attorney working in collaboration with traffic reconstruction experts.

Our Santa Barbara car accident lawyers examine who's at fault in Southern California pileups.

It’s important to determine which driver’s actions triggered the chain reaction of collisions leading to a multi-car accident. Most of the subsequent collisions are typically rear-end crashes or side impact collisions. Here in Southern California, pile-ups are also frequently blamed on the stop-and-go nature of traffic congestion.

Many times a pileup is attributed to adverse weather conditions, such as fog that causes low visibility or rain that leads to slick roads. Motorists who disregard road or weather conditions and exceed a safe driving speed may find it impossible to stop in time to avoid colliding with vehicles ahead of them. But drivers who are moving along at a safe speed could be involved in the same wreck.

Another scenario for a pileup begins with a car hitting a pothole or encountering another roadway hazard. The driver loses control of his vehicle and careens into another vehicle, touching off a chain reaction. Here, the collisions may include sideswipes, including collisions that involve drivers who swerved to avoid the roadway defect or another vehicle in the evolving crash.

‘Comparative Fault’ After a Pileup

In many cases, responsibility will be shared among several drivers in Southern California pile-ups.

In a claim for compensation after an accident, California courts are guided by the doctrine of “comparative fault.” This means that for everyone involved in a claim, their role in the accident must be assessed to determine what portion of responsibility for the accident and resulting injuries they bear.

The amount of compensation a driver is entitled to receive is then proportioned accordingly. A driver who is determined to be 25 percent responsible for an accident would have the compensation awarded to them reduced by one-fourth.

California applies a pure comparative negligence standard in traffic accident cases. Even if a driver is deemed to be 90 percent liable for their injuries in California, they would still be entitled to recover a proportionate 10 percent share of the damages.

When the various parties involved in a multi-car pileup come together to assess blame and demand compensation, whether in negotiations or in court, those who can present evidence to support their claim will fare better. If you are partially at fault in a multi-car accident, you want a lawyer to advocate forcefully on your behalf so that you are not saddled with more than your fair share of the fault. It’s not always enough to have the facts in your favor. You must be able to explain them in a persuasive manner to prevail in a personal injury claim.

Auto Accident Attorney in Santa Barbara

In addition to our own investigations of car crashes, our team at the Andrade Law Offices turns to forensic consultants who have expertise in crash reconstruction for assistance with complex accidents. Car accident reconstruction specialists compile and analyze a variety of technical data to develop a detailed report about their conclusions. They can present computer-generated animation and diagrams of the accident to explain their testimony before the jury if required to appear in court.

Steven R. Andrade has three decades of personal injury trial experience. He knows how to go into negotiations with insurance companies or into court armed with solid evidence. He can put that experience to work for you.