Who is considered liable for a multi-car pile-up?

On Behalf of | Dec 29, 2022 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Multi-vehicle collisions are all too common during New York winters. When the roads are slick and people are driving in whiteout conditions, all it takes is one car to slow or stop suddenly for several (or dozens) of vehicles behind them to crash into each other. So who is considered the at-fault driver whose insurance company you turn to for compensation for your medical bills and other expenses and damages?

Typically, if a driver strikes the vehicle in front of them, they’re considered to be at fault since they presumably weren’t leaving enough distance to stop safely if they needed to. In a multi-car pile-up, it’s a considerably more complex matter. These crashes take some time to investigate. Law enforcement needs to determine what initiated the chain reaction crash as well as the speed of all vehicles involved and how closely they were following the car ahead. The drivers’ various insurance companies will be involved as well.

New York law and comparative negligence

New York, unlike some states, follows the “comparative negligence” principle. That’s good news for those who may be partially, but not primarily, at fault. They still can recover compensation, although it will be reduced by their percentage of fault. If you were traveling over the holidays and the accident was in another state, they could have a different standard.

Multi-car pile-up injuries, especially in icy, snowy conditions, can be particularly serious. Those near the front may feel multiple impacts as the cars behind them crash. Further, cars can end up sliding around and strike them at different angles.

If you’ve suffered injuries in a multi-car crash, even if you’re certain you had no fault, it can be wise to seek legal guidance to help ensure that you get the compensation to which you’re entitled after everything is investigated and fault is determined. Your own insurance company may be able to help you as well. While you may need to have some patience, you’re also going to have bills to deal with. You want to do everything possible to make sure you aren’t forgotten or undercompensated.