Who is Liable for Mass Car Accidents?

With all the inclement weather we have been having, it is no surprise that there will be more auto accidents, and a good percentage will be multiple-car collisions.  During the start of the snowy season this past January, Philadelphia saw its own 50-car collision on Interstate 76.  This massive accident was caused by flash freezing rain, and led to one fatality.   In that instance, a man was killed when he got out of his disabled vehicle and was hit by another.  In other neighboring counties, others have also been killed in icy-related car accidents.

According to the U.S. Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a car accident occurs every 60 seconds, with one third of these accidents involving multiple vehicles.  Determining fault in multi-car collisions is an extremely complex process.  Most of the time, accidents are caused by one person who was just not paying attention, thereby setting off a massive chain reaction.

Proximate Cause (aka Cause in Fact)

The legal theory of proximate cause shows that if an event is sufficiently related to a legally recognizable injury, it is considered the cause of that injury.  To determine a proximate cause, Courts use the “but-for” test, which considers whether the injury would not have occurred but-for one’s negligent conduct.  If an event was too unforeseeable, then it is not considered the but-for cause of that injury.

Multiple car pile ups are still governed by the typical negligence laws and the rules of the road.  In many clear car accident scenarios, the but-for cause of a car accident is someone who is negligent and collides with another car.  If a third car is not able to stop in time and collides with the other two cars, the original negligent driver is still the but-for cause of that collision.  It is difficult, however, to determine liability in accidents that involve 50 cars because, as proximate cause is not always apparent.  With multiple drivers involved, fault can spread amongst several vehicles, and in some cases the government, for failing to de-ice or service the roads properly.  Pennsylvania is a comparative negligence state, so each driver can receive compensation according to his percentage of fault. If you are not sure who was at fault, you can file claims against all other drivers involved, as well as your own insurance company.

Auto Accident Litigation in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, so long as you are not deemed more at fault than the defendant, you can successfully recover damages for the harm the defendant caused.  If you were involved in a multiple-car collision, our experienced accident attorneys are available to help you understand your legal rights after an accident as well as to negotiate and seek recovery from insurance companies. Contact our lawyers at Solnick & Associates today.