Who Is at Fault in a Multi-Vehicle Crash?

If you have ever been in a vehicle accident, then you know that the aftermath can be challenging when it comes to securing compensation for injuries, property damage, and other losses. In general, the driver who caused the accident will be responsible for paying compensation to the other victims involved. However, determining fault in the aftermath of a multi-vehicle collision can be incredibly challenging. Here, we want to discuss how liability is determined in these situations, as well as what happens if more than one party is found to be responsible for causing the incident.

How is Liability Determined in a Multi-Vehicle Crash?

Every driver on the roadway owes a duty of care to others around them. In other words, every driver has to follow all laws regarding traffic safety. This includes paying attention to other drivers and pedestrians. If a driver does not follow these rules, they could bear responsibility if they are involved in an accident due to their breach of duty of care.

Proving liability in these situations can be challenging. In Oregon, this is considered a “fault-based” state concerning vehicle accidents. This means that the party responsible for a vehicle accident will be the one to pay compensation to other victims involved. There may be various types of evidence used to determine liability, including the following:

  • Statements from eyewitnesses
  • Photograph taken at the scene of the crash
  • The police report
  • Driver confessions
  • Video surveillance from nearby cameras
  • Vehicle “black box” data
  • Mobile device data

In some cases, it may be necessary to work with a skilled accident reconstruction expert who can use science and mathematics to recreate the incident, show angles of the crashes, and determine possible causes of the crash.

In many vehicle accident cases, only one driver will be at fault. However, that is not always the case. For example, let us examine a scenario where drivers are involved in an accident at a four-way stop. Suppose one driver slows down but does not stop all the way and then continues through the stop sign. Now imagine that another driver runs another stop sign at the intersection because they assume that all other drivers are going to stop. Inevitably, this will lead to a collision between the driver who rolled through the stop sign and the driver who did not stop at all. Both drivers in this situation will likely share fault.

What if More Than One Party was At Fault?

The state of Oregon operates under a modified comparative negligence system when it comes to vehicle accidents. This means that drivers can still recover compensation if they are partially at fault for a crash. However, there are limitations. Drivers can only recover compensation if they are less than 51% at fault for an accident. Additionally, the total amount of compensation a driver receives will be reduced based on their percentage of fault.

For example, suppose you are involved in an accident and you are awarded $100,000 by a judge or personal injury jury. However, suppose you were found to be 15% responsible for the incident. In this case, you would receive $85,000 in total compensation as opposed to the full $100,000 to account for the judgment amount minus the percentage of fault.