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Multi-Car Collisions: Who Pays?

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Posted on August 9, 2023

Any car accident case in Tampa, Florida can be complicated and difficult to navigate. If you were recently involved in a motor vehicle collision involving three or more cars, however, it can be even harder to determine who is responsible for paying for your medical bills, property damage and other losses. Multi-car accident cases may require assistance from an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney to resolve.

How Does Florida’s No-Fault Law Work in a Multi-Car Collision?

Florida is one of only a few states in the country that abide by a no-fault rule. This motor vehicle law requires drivers to seek initial coverage from their own car insurance policies, regardless of fault for an auto accident. All drivers in Florida must carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to pay for their losses after a crash. They cannot seek damages from the at-fault party, in most situations.

There is an exception to Florida’s no-fault rule known as the tort exemption (Florida Statutes, Section 627.737). This law allows a car accident victim to file a claim against another driver if his or her injuries are serious enough to meet the threshold. This is an injury or illness that consists of significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function, permanent injury, significant scarring or disfigurement, and death. Many multi-vehicle accidents are serious enough to qualify under Florida’s tort exemption.

Common Causes of Multi-Car Accidents

If a car accident involving more than one vehicle gives a victim the right to seek financial compensation from someone else rather than using PIP insurance, the cause of the crash will need to be determined. Multi-car crashes, such as chain reaction accidents and pileups, can occur for many reasons, including:

  • Failing to keep a safe following distance
  • Aggressive driving or tailgating
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving under the influence
  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Drowsy driving
  • Running a red light or violating other traffic laws
  • Brake failure
  • Low visibility or bad weather

Driver errors can lead to car accidents that involve three or more vehicles, including intersection accidents, pileups on the interstate, and a car that loses control and strikes several others. After these serious accidents, a victim may need to determine and prove fault to hold a third party financially responsible (liable).

Determining and Proving Fault for a Multi-Car Crash

Fault is determined in a multi-vehicle accident the same way as a two-vehicle crash: an investigation will be conducted to determine who or what caused the initial collision. All subsequent collisions will be the fault of the party responsible for the first impact. An investigation may involve interviewing witnesses, analyzing photographs of the scene, collecting dashcam or traffic camera footage, reviewing a police report, and hiring accident reconstruction experts.

If a multi-car crash occurs due to a driver’s failure to pay attention to the road, he or she will be held liable for paying for all victims’ damages. This might be the case in a chain reaction accident, where the first rear-end collision results in a chain of others. This could also be the case if a negligent or distracted driver caused a two-car accident, after which a third or subsequent vehicle crashed into the other two.

Identifying the driver responsible for the first collision generally points to who must pay. However, in some cases, third parties can be held responsible, such as the manufacturer of a defective car part or the government for an unsafe roadway. If you need assistance determining the cause of your multi-car collision in Tampa or understanding who will pay for your losses, contact a lawyer from Vanguard Attorneys. We offer free case consultations.