Who Is Responsible in a Multi-Car Accident?

By Greg Kohn

Determining fault in a multi-car accident is complicated, and costly when done incorrectly. It is important to consult an experienced New Jersey car accident attorney as soon as possible if you are involved in a multi-car collision on New Jersey roadways.  

With proper legal guidance, you will better understand your rights and how to navigate a New Jersey car accident claim for the compensation you deserve. 

Who is Liable in a Multi-Car Pile-Up?

Two-car accidents are relatively simple to dissect and determine liability issues.  However, multi-car collisions could point to several drivers sharing the blame. For example, 

  • In chain reaction pile-ups, a driver may rear-end another driver, pushing them into the cars ahead.  If the front cars are not moving when rear-ended by an upcoming vehicle, fault may be solely attributed to the moving vehicle that did not stop in time.  

However, if the moving car rear-ended a car with faulty brake lights, causing a chain reaction collision, or if involved cars failed to maintain a safe braking distance, negligence and liability may be shared by multiple drivers.

  • Lane crossover collisions may involve a car swerving to avoid an animal or pothole in the roadway, pushing the vehicle through a failed barrier into oncoming traffic.  Or, perhaps a big-rig experiences a mechanical malfunction that leads to an accident involving several vehicles.

In these two scenarios, liability may not rest solely on the driver of the car or big-rig. Other drivers, the trucking company, and road maintenance agencies may all be partially liable for the pile-up accidents. 

Establishing Fault in a Multi-Car Accident

Establishing negligence and fault is essential to a successful personal auto-injury claim in New Jersey. Skilled personal injury lawyers will begin with an investigation of the accident. 

You should provide a thorough account of the incident to your car accident lawyer as early as possible. Your attorney will also gather facts and eye-witness accounts from police reports, bystanders, and other witnesses to the accident. 

A thorough investigation of the evidence is critical, and once concluded, will help your attorney advise you about the viability of your claim and who to pursue for damages.

Beware, insurance companies will attempt to deflect liability and place blame for the accident on you, often contacting you directly to use your own words against you. It is best to allow your New Jersey car accident attorney to field inquiries from opposing counsel and insurance agencies while you focus on recovery.

What is New Jersey’s Modified Comparative Fault Law?

New Jersey’s modified comparative fault law is key to your injury accident claim and the damages you may receive. Under a modified comparative fault law, damages awarded in civil and insurance claims will be in proportion to the negligence of the involved parties.

Meaning, if you are seeking damages and are 20% at fault in the accident, your award will be reduced by the same. If you are 50% or more liable for the accident, you will not be entitled to any compensation for your injuries or suffering. 

An experienced New Jersey auto accident lawyer will determine your portion of liability and how it will affect your claim.  

Hiring a New Jersey Car-Accident Attorney

Injuries sustained in a multi-car collision or pile-up are often significant, as is the compensation needed for health and recovery. The complexity and variables in determining fault and recovering damages demand the attention of personal injury attorneys specializing in car accident cases and New Jersey’s comparative fault law.

If you have been injured in a multi-car pile-up or accident, call our office today for vigorous representation by a winning New Jersey car accident attorney.

About the Author
Greg Kohn is a partner at Nagel Rice and specializes in complex civil litigation cases, including professional malpractice, personal injury, class actions, wrongful death, products liability, and commercial litigation.  He has extensive experience representing clients in both state and federal court. Greg has tried many jury trials to verdict and has recovered over $50 million in settlements and verdicts in all types of personal injury matters including automobile accidents, wrongful death cases, slip and falls, and other catastrophic injury cases. Greg also handles medical malpractice cases, involving misdiagnoses, wrongful birth, and delayed cancer diagnosis. If you have questions regarding this article, you can contact Greg here.