Texas Car Accidents: Who Pays After a Multi-Car Wreck?

When accidents involve only two drivers, it can be fairly simple to determine who owes whom. But what happens after a multi-vehicle pileup?

Because these accidents involve multiple vehicles colliding with one another, pinpointing who was at fault can be particularly challenging. And when multiple parties are involved, it often turns into a tangled mess of different insurance companies trying to escape liability.

In most cases, you’ll need assistance from a Texas car accident lawyer to determine liability and recover fair compensation for your damages. In this article, we’ll take a look at the different laws that might come into play after a multi-vehicle collision and the obstacles you might face when bringing forth a claim or lawsuit.

Texas Car Accident Laws

Texas is an at-fault state. Essentially, that means that if you are involved in an accident caused by another party, that individual (or their insurance carrier) is responsible for compensating you for your injuries and any property damages they caused.

In a multi-car collision, it’s possible for more than one driver to share the blame. For this reason, Texas follows a “modified comparative fault” rule. Under the modified comparative fault rule, the plaintiff’s damages award is reduced by a percentage equal to their share of fault.

For instance, let’s say you file a claim for $10,000 for your injuries. However, a jury finds that you were 40 percent at fault for slamming on your brakes and left no reasonable amount of time for others to react and stop. In that case, you would only receive $6,000 for your injuries.

One important note: Because Texas is a “modified comparative fault” state, you will receive nothing at all if you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault for the crash.

How Do You Prove Fault in a Multi-Vehicle Accident?

Determining who is at fault in a traffic accident is usually a matter of deciding who was
careless (or “negligent” in legalese). Common acts of negligence include:

  • speeding or driving recklessly
  • texting and driving
  • following too closely
  • making unsafe lane changes
  • driving while intoxicated; and
  • falling asleep at the wheel​​​​​​​

In most cases, finding out who is at fault and what caused the accident is fairly obvious. However, determining liability isn’t as clear-cut when multiple vehicles are involved.

In a multi-vehicle accident, you’ll need to pinpoint the sequence of events that caused the accident. Or, if more than one driver was negligent, determine each driver’s share of liability.

Let’s look at the example below:

Driver C > Driver B > Driver A
Let's say Driver C falls asleep at the wheel, rear-ending Driver B, and pushing Driver B into Driver A. In this scenario, Driver C would be found liable, and their insurance carrier would need to compensate both Driver A and Driver B for damages.

For obvious reasons, it's usually the driver of the third car who is at fault and against whose car insurance company you would file a claim. But, there are other instances where other drivers may be found to be at fault.

Let’s take a look at that example of a chain reaction collision again:

Driver C > Driver B > Driver A
Let's say Driver B was following too closely and rear-ended Driver A. Because Driver B stopped suddenly and didn't give Driver C a reasonable time to react, this caused Driver C to collide with Driver B and Driver A. In this case, Driver B could be held liable.

When multiple parties are involved, you can bet the insurance company of the other drivers will claim they don't owe you as much as you are asking for—or worse, try to pin the blame on you. In these cases, your best course of action is to consult with an experienced Texas car accident attorney. An attorney will get to the bottom of who is at fault and assist you in fighting for the compensation you deserve.

What to Do After a Multi-Car Accident

As you can tell, it can be difficult to pinpoint the cause of a chain reaction collision, especially when you’re dealing with the adrenaline and confusion that follows an accident. However, there are a number of steps you can take to help you establish the sequence of events and determine who was negligent. These include:

  • Gather eyewitness contact information and accounts. This can include passers-by and the drivers of the cars behind you.
  • Take photos and videos of the scene, including images of each car involved in the accident, the damage each vehicle sustained, as well as any skid marks or vehicle debris.
  • Obtain police reports associated with the accident. This critical evidence can help determine which driver committed a traffic violation.

When multiple parties are fighting to prove fault, you don’t want to go into the battle alone. A Texas car accident attorney has access to resources that can help establish the cause for the accident and assign blame in the correct percentages. An experienced accident attorney can bring in an expert of their own to reconstruct the accident, and at the very least, they will ensure that nothing was missed by the police.

Involved in a Multi-Vehicle Collision? The Texas Car Accident Lawyers at The Law Offices of Tim O'Hare Can Help.

It may not make sense to handle your own insurance claim or lawsuit after a multi-car collision, especially when there can be so many contributing factors or if the other parties are trying to escape liability. The best way to protect your right to fair compensation is to speak with an experienced Texas car accident attorney.

When you meet with our attorneys, we’ll help you gather evidence to prove who was at fault and negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you’re compensated for your losses. Contact us today for a free consultation with our team to learn more about your legal rights.