How is Fault Determined in Multiple-Car Accidents in New York?

Car accidents involving just two vehicles can be confusing.  Questions of fault and who should pay damages are often litigated in court because they are so fact-sensitive, and high-dollar settlements and awards depend on questions of fault.  When accidents involve multiple cars and drivers, questions of fault are often even more complex.

In multi-car accidents, fault is typically determined by looking at which drivers were “negligent,” and assigning each of them a percentage of fault in causing the crash.  To find a driver negligent, a court or insurance company must see evidence that the driver breached a legal duty they were supposed to follow, and that the breach contributed to the crash.  If a driver or passenger suffered injuries, they can usually claim damages from each driver who helped cause the crash.

For help getting compensation in your car accident case, call the Yonkers car accident attorneys at The Martello Law Firm.  Contact us at (914) 685-6950 for a free evaluation of your case.

Who is at Fault in Multi-Car Crashes in New York?

For a driver to be considered “at fault” in a car accident, there must be evidence that they breached some duty that they owed the other driver(s) and that the breach of duty actually contributed to the crash.  Courts can find that multiple drivers share fault in a crash and assign each of them part of the blame.

There are different types of multiple-car accidents, and the facts of each case will be vital to determining fault in that specific case.  However, many types of multi-car accidents will be resolved according to the same general principles for that type of accident:


Accidents involving a chain reaction of one car crashing into the next are incredibly common on busy city streets and highways alike.  In most pileup cases, there is some initial crash at the front of the line of cars, and then the cars behind that initial accident are unable to stop in time to avoid crashing as well.

In these cases, the drivers at the front of the line are typically the starting place for liability.  If these drivers did not crash, then the entire pileup would have likely been avoided.  If one driver swerved into another or rear-ended the driver in front of them, that driver is likely the one who will bear the most fault in causing the crash.

Drivers to the rear could also be responsible for some degree of fault in the crash as well.  Each driver that crashes into the line of cars could exacerbate the injuries and damage to the cars and people in front of them, especially if the third or fourth cars crash into the initial accident at high speeds.  Drivers further back in the line typically have more notice and ability to slow down or stop.

Often, additional cars end up in the pileup because they were following the cars in front of them too closely or they were speeding and unable to stop before crashing into the cars in front of them.  Other times, no reasonable driver would have been able to stop in time, and these drivers are victims as well.  Talk to a Mount Vernon car accident lawyer about whether you might bear some degree of fault if you were involved in a multi-car pileup.

One other scenario in which pileups happen is when multiple cars are stopped (e.g., at a red light), and a car to the rear crashes into them, pushing one car into the next.  In these cases, the stopped drivers likely did nothing wrong, and the fault instead lies with the driver to the rear.

Intersection Accidents

When a driver has a green light, they can usually expect that all cross-traffic will be stopped.  If one driver runs a red light, they could end up causing a collision that involves multiple drivers in the intersection.  Even looking at a simple description of this kind of crash, it is clear that whoever ran the red light is the one who did something wrong and caused the crash.  However, these crashes are not always that simple.

The drivers with a green light could have been speeding or doing other unsafe things behind the wheel.  It is possible that, even if a car shot out in front of them, a properly attentive driver could have avoided the crash.  These cases often involve a lot of victim-blaming, and it is important to have a White Plains personal injury lawyer on your side to help you avoid counterclaims and get the damages you need.

Catastrophic Truck Accidents

Crashes involving trucks can often affect multiple other drivers on the road.  Especially on highways, rollovers, jackknife accidents, and even truck fires and explosions can injure dozens of people and involve many drivers and passengers.  In many of these cases, the trucker would be the one who is ultimately responsible for the crash.  However, their employer – the trucking company – could share liability.

Most crashes involving trucks that roll over, jackknife, or explode involve severe equipment malfunctions or loading safety issues.  For example, jackknife accidents are often caused by improperly loaded cargo causing the trailer to sway and fishtail and, eventually, cause the entire truck to fold on itself.

Sometimes, truck accidents are caused by other drivers who attempt to cut off trucks or pass them unsafely, which could mean another driver shares responsibility as well.  It is important to have a New Rochelle car accident attorney examine the facts of your case to look for all potential at-fault parties.

In any case, multiple drivers and passengers could be swept up in these crashes, and they may all deserve compensation from the trucker and the trucking company.

Call Our New York Car Accident Injury Lawyers Today

If you were injured in a multiple-car accident in New York, call the Westchester car accident attorneys at The Martello Law Firm today at (914) 685-6950.  We offer free case evaluations to get you started on your path to compensation.

Car Accident Lawyer Yonkers Personal Injury Lawyer Yonkers

Fill out and submit the form to request your free attorney consultation now.

Questions? Concerns? Just want to get information about your situation?

“Great experience after a terrible car accident.”

Westchester Injury Lawyers Yonkers Accident Lawyers
Yonkers Car Crash Lawyers Carlos,