How Is Liability Determined for Multiple-Car Crashes?

When multiple cars are involved in an accident, determining liability can be a complex process. Fault often varies based on specific circumstances, and many factors could be at play for the collision. If you or someone you know has been involved in a multi-car accident, it is important to work with a Cincinnati car accident attorney who can investigate the collision and identify the person—or people—who may be responsible.

Common Causes of Multi-Car Accidents in Ohio

Car accidents can happen for a multitude of reasons, from poor weather and dangerous road conditions to mechanical defects and driver negligence. Some of the most common causes of multi-car collisions include:

  • Distracted driving, including texting while driving
  • Speeding or driving recklessly
  • Sudden weather changes, like rain or snow, leading to slippery roads
  • Failing to yield the right of way at intersections
  • Defects in a car’s brakes, steering system, or other components

How to Determine Fault in a Multi-Car Collision

In Ohio, the person whose actions cause a car accident is financially liable for any damages suffered by the victims. When the collision involves multiple vehicles, liability becomes more complex. You will need to carefully examine the actions of each driver leading up to the crash and determine who has primary responsibility.

For example, say that one car (Car A) rear-ends another car (Car B) because of distracted driving. Car B is then pushed into another vehicle (Car C). In this scenario, Car A is primarily responsible since they initiated the series of collisions.

In another scenario, say that multiple cars are on a highway. Car A abruptly merges into the lane of Car B, causing it to swerve and hit Car C. Here, Car A’s failure to merge safely is the primary cause, and they bear the responsibility.

Shared Responsibility in Multiple-Car Accidents

When multiple cars are involved in an accident, it’s common to wonder: who pays for the collision, and how much? This often depends on who is filing the claim, and Ohio’s modified comparative negligence system. Under Ohio law, injured parties can recover damages in proportion to another’s responsibility, as long as they were not more than 50% at fault.

For example, say that Driver A is preoccupied and doesn’t see a red light ahead. Too late to stop, they rear-end Driver B. The impact pushes Driver B’s car into the intersection where Driver C, who is speeding, collides with Driver B.

While Driver A is primarily responsible for the accident due to distracted driving, Driver C’s speeding can’t be overlooked. If the case goes to trial, the court will assign different percentages of fault to different drivers. If Driver B suffers $200,000 in damages and Driver A is 75% at fault with Driver C at 25%, then Driver A owes $150,000 and Driver C owes $50,000.

As for Driver C’s injuries, Driver A may be held partially liable. But given that Driver C was speeding, they also shared responsibility. Because Driver C is 25% at fault, the court will reduce their settlement by 25% as well.

Speak to an Ohio Car Accident Attorney Today

Multi-car accidents can be complex and require legal expertise to navigate. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to consult with a Cincinnati personal injury lawyer who can help plan your next steps. As soon as possible after your accident, schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your legal options.