Determining Fault in a Multiple Car Accident

Determining fault in a multiple car accident is done by the insurance adjuster. Each driver’s insurance company will assign their own adjusters to the claim, and each will investigate the police report, witness and driver testimony, and more to determine fault in a multiple car accident. If you live in an at-fault state, it is likely a portion of the fault will be applied to each driver. Learn more in our guide below.

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Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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When you are involved in an accident that involves three or more vehicles, it might be confusing to determine who is at fault. In most states, there are simple rules in place to determine who is at fault, but it comes down to the problem of who caused the pileup to begin.

Determining who is at fault is really a simple matter, even in a multi-car accident, and can be decided by asking all of the drivers involved one simple question.

Who is at fault is almost always the person in the rear of the accident. What happens is that one driver runs into the back of another one, and that person’s car is forced forward into the car in front of them. Since only the car that started the chain reaction is at fault, they would be charged with the entire accident.

In some states, especially those which use Personal Injury Protection, the fault in an accident may be divided between two or more of the drivers
involved. In this situation, the amount of fault will be determined by the police officer who writes the report or by the insurance adjusters, negotiating for an optimum solution.

For example, one person may be deemed to be 80 percent at fault, while another driver takes the remaining 20 percent of the blame. It is possible for several people to share in the fault, and everyone involved may share some of the responsibility.

If you were deemed to be at fault in the accident, you have the right to challenge the decision. Contact your insurance company and explain your position on the matter. If you are able to make a convincing point, your amount of fault could be reduced or completely thrown out of the equation. Before you challenge the ruling, though, make sure that you have a valid
point, because trying to pass the blame on when it is really your fault could land you in court on fraud charges.

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