Who Is At Fault in a Three-Way Car Accident in Pennsylvania?

If a three-way car accident happens, you determine fault in the same way you would in a two-car collision. First, you would figure out who had the right of way, and when, and what went wrong to cause the accident. From there, you would determine the damage to the vehicles and injuries to the people involved. Then, you might calculate the percentage of fault each person shared for the injuries and damages. 

Kalikhman & Rayz, LLC has the resources to help victims of three-way car accidents maximize the compensation they receive for their injuries. In crashes involving multiple vehicles, it can be challenging to know who caused them. And oftentimes, more than one person shares fault for the crash. Our Philadelphia car accident attorneys have a firm understanding of Pennsylvania’s motor vehicle laws and can help victims bring a strong legal claim. 

What Are Common Causes of Three-Way Car Accidents in Pennsylvania?

Many factors can lead to a collision involving multiple vehicles. Some of the common causes include:

  • Drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs,
  • Adverse road conditions (like snow, fog, or ice),
  • Speeding,
  • Texting and driving,
  • Road rage (especially during busy commute times),
  • Arguments with passengers,
  • Talking on the phone, and
  • Mechanical failures (like bad brakes or power steering that goes out).

Some of these causes—like the weather—are outside the driver’s control. On the other hand, factors like speeding or distracted driving are within the driver’s control. The injuries people experience after a car accident involving multiple vehicles can vary from one crash to the next. Injuries can be more severe if those involved in the crash aren’t wearing seatbelts or helmets (if on a motorcycle). The insurance company might look closely at these variables when deciding who’s at fault for what and how much the insurer should pay. 

Who Is At Fault in a Three-Way Car Accident?

Determining who is responsible for a three-way car accident can be a bit tricky. At its core, a three-way crash often involves multiple car accidents that occur in quick succession. For example, Driver A might rear-end Driver B, who then rear-ends Driver C because of the force of the impact with Driver B. In this scenario, Driver A might be accountable for the first crash with Driver B and the collision between Drivers B and C. 

But it might not always work out that way. How the law divvies blame between the vehicles heavily depends on the situation. For example, suppose Driver B was tailgating Driver C. In that case, they might bear most of the responsibility for the collision, not Driver A. Or it could be that a mechanical failure led to Driver A getting into an accident with Driver B. In that situation, the car’s manufacturer might be to blame for the crash, not Driver A. Because these accidents are so fact-specific, the outcome can change from one scenario to the next. The takeaway is that determining fault requires everyone to look at the evidence in the context of the damages people ask for. 

Whose Insurance Pays in a Three-Way Car Accident?

Whose insurance pays if there’s a crash involving multiple cars depends on the type of insurance the parties have and whether their injuries qualify as severe. Let’s go over why this is. 

Pennsylvania law lets people carry no-fault insurance policies (either full or limited tort). These contracts allow people to receive compensation from their insurance company regardless of fault. The tradeoff is that it limits the amount of damages they can receive to whatever the insurance company agrees to pay based on the policy. If you have this type of coverage, you typically can’t file a lawsuit against the other driver unless your injuries are serious. A serious injury includes death, permanent impairment, or significant disfigurement. 

The no-fault insurance plan may cover the passengers as well. So, each driver and passenger would file a claim with the insurance company that covers the vehicle they were in during the crash. The insurer would investigate the claim and make a payment based on the limits in the contract. 

In car crashes involving multiple vehicles, it can be confusing to figure out whose insurance contract applies and when. Plus, if one person’s insurance company says one thing but another person’s contract says something else, it can be challenging to know what to do next. A personal injury attorney in Philadelphia can help accident victims demystify their insurance contracts. They can also negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company and, if necessary, file a lawsuit to get the victim what they deserve. 

What Is the Average Settlement for a Three-Way Car Accident in PA?

The average settlement for a multi-car crash can vary dramatically from case to case. It depends on the limits in the insurance contracts and the type of injuries the people experience. Other factors include:

  • The impact of the injuries on the people’s lives, 
  • The amount of fault they might share for the wreck, and 
  • The quality of the evidence in the case. 

Another factor impacting the settlement is whether the victim files their claim before the deadline. In many cases, Pennsylvania law gives victims two years to file a claim with their insurance company or the court (if applicable). In some cases, people may have more or less time to file their claims than this. If the victim doesn’t submit a claim before the deadline expires, they may not be able to recover any compensation for the losses from the crash. A car accident lawyer can help victims understand when and how to file a claim in time. 

How Does Pennsylvania’s Comparative Negligence Law Impact Multi-Car Accident Settlements?

Pennsylvania law’s comparative negligence law can greatly impact what compensation looks like in a multi-car crash. The comparative negligence law allows victims to bring a claim even if they are partially at fault. But they typically can’t recover damages if they are more at fault than any of the other drivers in the crash. What’s more, whatever compensation they receive is reduced by their percentage of fault. 

So, what does this look like in practice? Let’s say three drivers—A, B, and C—get in a crash. If A, B, and C are all 33.3% at fault, none of them may be able to get a money award. But if A is 10% at fault and B and C are each 45% at fault, driver A may only be able to get 90% of their damages. 

Victims can help protect their right to compensation by preparing a strong case against the other drivers. Doing this may limit the amount of blame the court thinks the victim carries for the crash. In turn, this can increase the settlement they receive for what they went through. 

What Evidence Can You Use to Prove Fault in Car Crashes Involving Multiple Cars?

Evidence people might use to figure out who is to blame for the three-way car accident might include the following:

  • Police reports, 
  • Witness statements, 
  • Photographs of the crash site,
  • Testimony from accident reconstruction specialists, and
  • Medical opinions from doctors.

In a multi-car crash, gathering evidence and piecing together what happened before and during the accident can often be complex. It can be time-consuming to diligently review the records and competing versions of what happened. But, doing so helps the victim increase their chances of getting a favorable outcome.

Kalikhman & Rayz, LLC: Multi-car Collision Attorneys Serving Pennsylvania

Auto wrecks involving more than one or two vehicles can be scary and cause extensive harm. After the crash, victims are left to pick up the pieces and take steps to move forward. Filing a claim against the other drivers can put victims closer to relieving the financial burden of the accident. But they don’t have to do it alone. 

The team at Kalikhman & Rayz, LLC has advocated for multi-car crash victims for decades. We understand how hard it can be for victims to know where to turn after a crash. We’re here to help them by taking over the legal matters so they can focus on their healing. Clients praise our ability to make them feel at ease, speedily handle their claims, and work hard to get favorable results. 

If you were hurt in a three-way car accident, contact us today by calling 267-762-2611 to schedule a consultation.