Many people assume that the car in the back is automatically at fault in a rear-end collision involving three cars, but that assumption is not always correct. Several different parties can be liable for a three-car rear-end collision, including third parties who were not in the vehicles. The at-fault party will depend on the facts of your case.

When the Car in Front Can Be Liable for a Three-Car Rear-End Collision

Often, the vehicle in front gets hit because the car in the back did not stop in time due to speeding, tailgating, or inattention. Sometimes though, the driver in front causes the crash by slamming on the brakes at the last second, without giving the vehicles behind enough time to stop to avoid a collision.

Let’s say that a dog darted onto the street during heavy traffic. A driver hit the brakes to try to keep from hitting the animal. As a result, the two cars behind the lead vehicle slammed into each other and the first car. The at-fault driver had a good reason to slow down suddenly, but he will likely be found responsible for the wreck.

When the Middle Car Can Be At-Fault for a Three-Car Rear-End Collision

The vehicle in the middle can be the cause of the crash. A rush-hour driver who is changing the radio station looks away from the road for only a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, a few seconds are enough to result in a collision.

  • The driver looks forward again, just in time to see that traffic has stopped. The middle driver slams on the brakes but cannot stop in time to prevent a crash with the car in front. Because the middle vehicle stopped so suddenly, the car in the back had insufficient time to stop. Within a very short time, we have a three-car collision.

When the Back Car Can Be Responsible for a Three-Car Rear-End Collision

Many different things can cause the driver in the vehicle farthest back to cause a three-car rear-end crash. The driver could be speeding, tailgating, not paying attention, or distracted when he hits the vehicle in front of him and pushes it into the first car.

Sometimes, the law enforcement officer will find two or more drivers at fault in three-car rear-end collisions. The officer will accuse the drivers of not allowing enough space between their vehicles. In these situations, the moving violation ticket is usually for following too closely.

When a Third Party Can Be Liable for a Three-Car Rear-End Collision

A third party can be responsible for the crash when that party’s negligence caused the wreck. Here are some examples of scenarios in which a third party’s carelessness can lead to one of these accidents:

  • A passenger throws a bag of trash from a fast-food meal out of the window, startling the driver of the car behind it. The surprised driver slams on the brakes, causing the two vehicles behind it to collide with the driver who panicked.
  • Someone carelessly allows an item or substance to get spilled on the road, causing a dangerously slick surface. A car brakes suddenly to try to avoid the hazard. The two vehicles behind the lead car slam into the front car.

There are many other fact patterns in which a third party can be at-fault for one of these wrecks.

What We Have to Prove to Hold Someone Responsible for a Three-Car Rear-End Collision

A party must be legally liable for us to pursue financial damages for your losses. A car accident lawyer must prove all four of these factors:

  • Duty of care. The at-fault party must have had a legal duty. All drivers have a duty to drive with caution and take reasonable measures to avoid injury to others.
  • Breach of duty. When someone’s conduct does not meet the standard of the duty of care, the person is negligent.
  • Causation. The negligence must be the thing that caused the accident.
  • Measurable damages. You must have quantifiable damages to pursue compensation in a negligence action. Physical harm satisfies this requirement.

Every case is different. There might be multiple parties whose negligence caused or contributed to the accident.

A Lawyer Can Sort Out the Liability Questions for You

At S. Burke Law, our mission is to help people who get hurt because of the carelessness of others. When we handle your personal injury claim, you can focus your time and energy on getting better and rebuilding your life. We work tirelessly to get our clients all the compensation they deserve.

You will not have to pay upfront legal fees for us to help you. We take personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that our legal fees come out of the settlement proceeds or award at the end of the matter.

Call us today at (404) 842-7838 for a free consultation. There is no obligation.