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Who Is at Fault in a Multi-Car Accident?

September 28, 2021

Vehicle accident claims can be challenging in New Mexico. This is particularly true for accidents that involve more than two vehicles. Multi-vehicle collisions often result in those involved pointing the finger at one another when it comes to determining liability. Here, we want to discuss who could be at fault in the event a multi-car collision occurs in New Mexico. Determining liability in these situations will involve extensive investigations, and our car accident lawyers strongly encourage any injury victim to work with a skilled attorney who can help them with their case.

Determining Fault for a Crash Involving Three Vehicles

Most people think of accidents involving only two vehicles, but the reality is that it is not uncommon for three vehicles to be involved in a collision. This can make it challenging when determining exactly which driver caused the incident. In fact, it may be determined that more than one driver was at fault for the collision.

Liability for a three-car collision will typically depend on who caused the initial impact. For example, a single driver may be responsible for causing a chain reaction collision that impacted the other two vehicles in a three-car scenario. In a chain reaction crash, this often puts the liability on only one driver – the first driver to make contact with another vehicle.

However, there are other scenarios where a three-car collision could have multiple liable parties. For example, if one driver was texting and driving and failed to see the erratic behavior of another driver, both drivers could be at fault if they get into an accident that ends up involving other vehicles.

What About Fault for a Multi-Vehicle Pile-Up?

It could certainly be the case that there are more than three vehicles involved in a vehicle collision. In these situations, determining liability can seem nearly impossible. When there are more than three drivers involved in a vehicle accident, stories can become convoluted, especially considering all possible eyewitness statements.

Determining liability for a multi-car pile-up or collision will typically require an extensive up investigation by law enforcement officials, insurance carriers, and maybe even accidentally construction experts.

Some of the evidence that must be taken into account for a collision involving multiple vehicles includes the following:

  • Eyewitness statements
  • Video surveillance of the incident
  • Police reports
  • Photographs taken at the scene of the crash
  • Mobile device data
  • Vehicle “black box†data

New Mexico’s Comparative Negligence Laws

When discussing multiple vehicle collisions, it is crucial to talk about how this state handles comparative negligence between drivers. In New Mexico, there is a “pure comparative negligence†system in place. This is different from how other states handle more than one driver causing a collision. In a pure comparative negligence system, individuals in a vehicle accident can still recover compensation for their injuries and property damage even if they are up to 99% at fault for the incident. Typically, other states limit the recovery of compensation to those who are less than 50% responsible for a collision, but not New Mexico.

However, there are limitations to how much compensation a person can receive. The total amount of compensation individuals receive for a vehicle accident will be reduced based on their percentage of fault for the incident. For example, if an individual sustains $100,000 worth of medical bills and property damage expenses, but it is determined that they are 45% at fault for the incident, they would only be able to receive $55,000 in compensation instead of the full $100,000 to account for their percentage of fault.