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How Is Liability Determined in Multi-Vehicle Collisions in Florida?
Wooten Kimbrough Damaso & Dennis, P.A.
(407) 843-7060

Car accidents involving only two cars, make determining fault quite easy in most cases. However, when it comes to multiple vehicle collisions determining fault can involve complex analysis and varying degrees of responsibility. Liability can be complicated when more than two vehicles are involved in either a chain-reaction or pile-up accident.

A multi-vehicle accident occurs when more than two cars hit each other, often in a chain reaction or rear-end accident. Consider what commonly happens on I-4 at rush hour, as drivers are impatiently waiting to get through traffic and get home, often tailgating the driver in front of them. It only takes one car to slam on its brakes, leading the car directly behind them to crash into to the back of that car, and so on, and so forth.

Which driver is responsible for the damages sustained by the second or third car? Is it automatically assumed to be the driver directly behind the injured person, or is it a combination of all the drivers involved? Like so many areas of the law, the answer is not always black and white and requires an analysis of what exactly happened that caused this chain reaction accident.

Multi-vehicle crashes are oftentimes the result of another person’s negligence, usually they involve several different drivers being careless or negligent. Determining fault and causation is often done with the assistance of police and the insurance adjusters, and liability may not be completely clear.

While a rear-end chain reaction accident could be mostly the fault of the person in the very front who slammed on his or her brakes, the third driver in the chain may have been glancing down at his or her phone and not reacted in time to avoid a collision. In this situation, total fault can be divided between all parties based on the percentage each person played in the cause of the accident.

Florida operates under the principle of comparative negligence. Under comparative negligence, fault is divided upon the percentage of blame each person played in the cause of an accident. Florida’s pure comparative negligence law allows the injured party to receive compensation even if he or she played more than 50 percent or higher in causing the accident. A plaintiff will not be completely barred from recovering something for his or her injuries in Florida.

Obviously, this determination relies heavily on evidence from the scene of the accident to help recreate what occurred. Reports from eyewitnesses, photographs from the accident, and the police report will all be important pieces of information in preparing a liability case. Never make statements at the scene of the accident that will imply fault as those statements can be used against you later. Speak with an Orlando personal injury attorney as soon as possible to protect your legal rights following a multi-vehicle collision.

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