If you travel in and around Fresno County, you may have witnessed multi-vehicle accidents or chain reaction crashes. One vehicle slams on brakes on a busy highway causing two or more vehicles behind the lead car to rear-end each other. Another example is when a vehicle runs a red light or a stop sign causing a collision that results in other vehicles crashing as they try to avoid the initial collision. When a crash involves multiple vehicles, sorting out liability can be very difficult, especially when the drivers disagree as to who caused the initial collision.
It is extremely important to identify the cause of the crash to determine who is liable for your damages. Because of California’s pure comparative fault law, more than one person may be responsible for your damages. However, you may also be held responsible for the crash under comparative negligence standards.
California’s Pure Comparative Negligence Standard
When an accident involves multiple parties, the court must determine how each party contributed to the collision. In a two-car accident, one driver could be 100 percent at fault or both drivers may be partially at fault. Under comparative negligence laws, each driver is entitled to receive compensation, but the person may not receive full compensation if he or she is partially at fault for the crash. In other words, if you are judged to be 30 percent at fault for the crash, your compensation will be reduced by 30 percent.
However, when more than two vehicles are involved in an accident, you must also consider California’s joint and several liability laws. Under California law, if two or more parties share liability for an accident, all parties whose fault exceeds your fault are jointly liable for your economic losses (i.e. lost wages, medical expenses, property damage, etc.). However, this is not the case with non-economic losses.
When two or more parties are responsible for your injuries, those parties are severally liable for your “pain and suffering” damages. For example, if you are in a multi-vehicle accident with four other drivers and two of those drivers are found to be liable for the accident, each driver is only liable for your non-economic losses (i.e. pain and suffering) in an amount equal to the driver’s percentage of fault. If one driver is 30 percent at fault, he can only be held liable for 30 percent of your non-economic losses.
Sorting Out Fault in a Multi-Vehicle Accident
In a two-vehicle accident, it can be difficult to determine fault in some cases. When you have three or more vehicles involved in a crash, it can be even more complex. It is extremely important to sort out the details because the percentage of fault assigned to each driver can have a significant impact on the amount of money you can recover for your damages.
Call Torem & Associates at 1-800-954-4444 or online by using the contact form on our website to request a free legal consultation with a Fresno accident attorney. Our lawyers understand the importance of determining liability for an accident to maximize the chance you will receive full compensation for your losses and damages. Let us help you sort out the details so that you can recover a fair and just amount from each of the parties responsible for your injuries.