A chain-reaction car accident is one that involves more than two vehicles. It can take the form of multiple rear-end accidents in quick succession or a pileup accident involving more than one collision. Legal fault, or liability, for a chain-reaction car accident, is more complex than a straightforward crash that involves only two vehicles. You may need assistance from a car accident attorney to hold someone responsible for your chain-reaction car accident.

How Does Texas Assign Car Accident Fault?

First, you will need to understand how Texas law deals with fault in car accident cases on a general level. Texas is a fault or tort-based insurance state, meaning the driver at fault for a car accident is who pays for crash victims’ losses. In a no-fault state, on the other hand, it is not necessary to determine or prove someone else’s fault to recover financial compensation; all drivers file claims with their own insurers, regardless of fault.

Common Causes of Multivehicle Accidents

Identifying the driver or party at fault for causing a chain reaction crash in Texas requires a determination of the cause of the wreck. The proximate or actual cause of the initial collision will point to the person at fault. Common causes of multivehicle accidents include:

  • Distracted driving

  • Texting and driving

  • Drowsy driving

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

  • Speeding

  • Following too closely

  • Driving the wrong way on a one-way road

  • Ignoring rights-of-way

  • Inclement weather

Driver error is the most common cause, especially on congested roads. A culprit may not be paying enough attention to the road to notice a change in the speed of another vehicle, for example, resulting in a multivehicle crash.

How Is Fault Determined in a Chain Reaction Crash?

All car accident cases begin with an in-depth investigation into the cause of the crash. An investigation may involve analyzing police reports, speaking to eyewitnesses and returning to the scene of the crash. More complicated car accident cases may require accident reconstruction performed by crash experts. In a chain reaction crash in particular, the order of impact matters. One of the goals of the investigation is to determine which vehicle made the initial impact that triggered the rest of the chain-reaction crash. 

An investigation of an intersection pileup accident, for example, may find that Driver A ran a red light and was struck by Driver B, who had the right-of-way. Then, Drivers C and D joined the accident because they did not have time to stop. An investigation of this crash, however, may find that another driver, Driver X, actually rear-ended Driver A and forced him into the intersection. This would be the initial crash, and the chain reaction that came next would be the fault of Driver X, even if Driver X’s vehicle never actually touched Drivers B, C or D.

Similarly, if a chain reaction accident is a string of rear-end collisions, fault will most likely go to the rearmost vehicle for causing the initial crash. If the force of the first rear-end impact between Driver C and Driver B propelled Driver B into the back of Driver A, Driver C would be responsible for both other drivers’ losses for causing the first rear-end collision.

Shared Fault for a Chain Reaction Car Accident

When two or more drivers are involved in a car accident case in Texas, shared liability is a possibility. Texas’s comparative negligence rule means that an injured accident victim can still recover financial compensation even if he or she is found to be partially at fault for a chain reaction crash. The victim’s financial recovery, however, will be reduced by his or her degree of fault. If a car accident claim involves multiple defendants, they may each owe the plaintiff an amount equivalent to their proportion of fault.

Determining liability for a chain-reaction car accident in Texas is difficult. For assistance with the recovery process after this type of crash, contact the Law Offices of Maloney & Campolo to request a free consultation with an attorney.