Who Can Be Held Responsible in Accidents involving More Than Two Vehicles in Minnesota?
After an accident involving multiple vehicles, determining fault can be challenging. Frequently, more than one driver can be held responsible, but various factors will decide that.
The Car in Front
Generally, the front car will not be responsible for multi-car accidents. However, if the middle car can prove the front car abruptly slammed on their brakes for no reason, the front vehicle might be partially at fault. Therefore, Minnesota’s contributory negligence law will apply, and distribute liability between the parties.
The Car in the Middle
The middle car’s driver will typically be partially responsible for the damage to the front vehicle, and they will pursue a claim against the last vehicle for damages. However, if the middle driver can prove that they stopped in time but the last driver crashed into them, pushing them into the vehicle in front, the last driver may be responsible for the whole accident.
The Last Car
The individual driving the last car is usually responsible for causing a multiple-car accident and may have to pay for any resulting injuries and property damage. However, the last driver can argue contributory negligence if there was an unnecessary and sudden stop by the front or middle car to place part of the blame on those parties.
Witnesses & Multi-vehicle Accidents
Understanding what happened in a multi-vehicle accident can be difficult, as each driver will typically have a different version of events, and all may deny fault. As a result, statements from any eyewitnesses can be critical. They can provide an unbiased and objective opinion on what occurred because they have no financial stake in how the claim is resolved. A witness statement along with a police report can carry a lot of weight with an insurance adjuster who is deciding fault.
How Is Liability Assigned in Multi-Vehicle Accidents?
After an investigation, the insurance companies will assign a percentage of fault to each party involved. To determine how much each party contributed to a multi-car crash, an adjuster may consider each driver’s statements at the scene, eyewitness statements, police reports, photographs, the location of the damage to the vehicles, and any available video footage. Here are some scenarios that show how an insurer or a court may assign liability:
- The last car (Driver C) causes an accident by crashing into the middle car (Driver B), causing the middle vehicle (Driver B) to collide with the front vehicle (Driver A). In this case, Driver C will likely be 100 percent liable for each drivers’ damages.
- In this scenario, liability is more complicated: The middle car (Driver B) causes an accident by crashing into the front car (Driver A). The last car (Driver C) doesn’t stop in time and crashes into the middle car (Driver B). Driver B will likely be 90-100% responsible for Driver A’s damages and the damage to the front of their vehicle. Driver C will probably be 100% liable for Driver B’s damages and possibly a tiny portion of Driver A’s (e.g., 10 percent).
Under Minnesota’s contributory negligence law, you can recover compensation for a collision as long as you are no more than 50% responsible. However, your payment will be reduced by your percentage of fault.