A Local Firm With A National Reputation

Who’s At Fault in a Three-Car Accident?

May 31, 2022

Sorting out blame in most car accident cases can be difficult because the two sides offer different takes on what happened. As you can probably imagine, figuring out who is to blame for a three-car accident is even harder.

The addition of an extra car can make things incredibly complicated. You may also be confused about what your role is in the crash. Even though you were driving carefully, you may be second-guessing the amount of blame you bear for the incident.

A multi-car accident can be a messy affair. Make sure you can deal with being involved in that kind of case by partnering with an experienced Hartford County car accident lawyer at an experienced injury law firm.

What Is a Multi-Car Accident?

Before we discuss anything else, let’s first focus on clearly understanding multi-car accidents. For starters, you may not always hear them referred to as multi-car accidents, three-car accidents, or even pileups.

Those types of incidents may also be called chain-reaction crashes. That label is useful because it clues you into what caused the car accident in the first place.

In a chain-reaction crash, one car sets the whole incident in motion. For whatever reason, the driver of one car collides with another, and that other car proceeds to ram into another vehicle.

Chain-reaction crashes may involve more than three vehicles.

These crashes are scary because they can lead to greater damage. More people can wind up badly injured in a pileup. Property damage is also likely to be greater when more vehicles are involved in a crash.

What Are the Common Causes of Multi-Car Accidents?

Now that we know a bit more about three-car accidents, let’s try to understand them better. Why do these types of accidents happen? The reasons listed below provide some potential explanations.

Failure to Stop in Time

Rear-end crashes usually occur when a moving vehicle hits a stopped car. Those types of accidents typically involve two cars, but certain variables can lead to a larger crash.

For instance, a multi-car crash could occur if the vehicle that started the whole thing was moving at a high speed. Three-car accidents could also happen because the vehicles were close together.

In any case, the moving car’s inability to stop explains why this whole mess happened. Whether the driver’s inability to stop was caused by a mechanical issue or some other matter altogether is something the investigation will determine.

Ignoring Traffic Lights

Navigating a large intersection can be challenging, even for the most experienced drivers. Given the number of vehicles present at a typical intersection during a busy time of the day, it is not hard to see how something could go wrong.

A reckless driver may ignore a red light and ram straight into other vehicles in a different lane. Drivers who turn at intersections without checking their surroundings first could also cause a three-car accident or something potentially worse.

Traffic lights should keep everyone safe on the road. If someone blatantly disregards them while driving, the chances of something bad happening skyrockets.


Speeding is always a bad idea. You do not have much control over your vehicle when you are zooming down the road. By the time you recognize that you could hit another car, you may not have enough time or space to come to a full stop.

Aside from causing a multi-car accident, speeding is also dangerous because it can make a crash significantly worse. A speeding car can do more damage to another vehicle if it registers a direct hit.

If you want to be a safe driver, you should avoid speeding altogether.


Trouble can also occur if the cars are moving too close to one another. A driver engaging in tailgating may not stop in time if the car in front of them hits the brakes. As soon as that first collision occurs, it can easily lead to another crash.

It would be best to avoid tailgating because it could endanger you and your fellow drivers.

Furthermore, tailgating is also illegal in the state of Connecticut. According to state law, no driver should follow a vehicle “more closely than is reasonable and prudent.” Any driver guilty of committing that traffic violation will receive a fine.

There is no upside to tailgating in Connecticut. You are only inviting trouble if you engage in that driving behavior.

Sudden Lane Changing

Lane changing could also be the root cause of a multi-car pileup. When drivers suddenly change lanes on an already congested road, they could easily hit other vehicles around them. Even if they do not hit another vehicle, another driver may have to swerve to avoid them and that could lead to a crash.

If you are planning to change lanes, you need to signal that clearly to the people around you. Also, give other drivers time to adjust and do not force yourself into their lane.

Changing lanes is fine, but you need to be cautious while doing it. Otherwise, you could end up causing serious trouble for yourself and others.

Distracted Driving

Drivers can also cause multi-car pileups because they were not concentrating on what they were doing. Distracted driving is dangerous; when you are not fully aware of everything around you, you can make mistakes.

Unfortunately, those mistakes can lead to tragic accidents.

Drivers may also get distracted for different reasons. A driver could be distracted because they were looking at their phone or eating.

Some distractions are more internal in nature. Drivers who are dealing with a lot of stress cannot concentrate on the road. Drivers are also more likely to cause accidents if they have not gotten enough sleep.

Driving demands your undivided attention. If you know you cannot provide that, it would be better for you to take a break from driving.

Driving Under the Influence

Countless articles, PSAs, and warnings illustrate the dangers of drunk driving. At this point, we are all aware of the inherent dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol.

There is no good reason to drive while drunk, especially when there are taxis and ridesharing options. Keep yourself and other drivers safe by staying off the road when you are drunk.

Who Should Shoulder the Blame for a Three-Car Accident?

Car accidents can cause serious injuries and plenty of property damage. More often than not, the people involved in those accidents need to deal with enormous expenses stemming from those injuries and property losses.

If you happen to be among the individuals who incurred a lot of expenses due to recent involvement in a car crash, you probably are not too keen on the idea of paying for your losses. The person responsible for the multi-car accident is the one who should pay your expenses.

The law agrees with that sentiment of yours, but who exactly is the person responsible for the accident? How do you identify the party to blame in a three-car accident?

Let’s discuss that matter in greater detail in the next section.

The Driver Who Caused the First Crash Is At Fault

Often, they blame the party who caused the first crash because the subsequent collision would not have occurred were it not for the initial crash.

In some cases, it is easy to pinpoint the party responsible for the pileup because they committed a traffic violation beforehand. The courts will likely blame the driver who ignored the traffic lights or operated their vehicle above the speed limit. The same could also hold true for drivers who were tailgating prior to the accident.

Two Drivers Share Blame for the Accident

It is important to note that blame is not limited to one party in multi-car accidents. Depending on the situation,  two of the three drivers involved in the crash could share the blame.

Let’s discuss a scenario where they can blame two of the three drivers involved in a multi-car pileup.

Picture this: You are stopped at a red light when a speeding car rear-ends your vehicle. After that, another car from an adjacent lane rams into your car. It turns out that the second car was moving through a red light when it hit you.

That scenario can still be considered a chain-reaction crash, but the two collisions that occurred can be attributed to different issues. Furthermore, you can also argue that your car would not be as severely damaged were it not for the other driver ignoring the red light.

Attributing blame in that scenario will be difficult, but the arguments may mainly be between the two drivers who hit your vehicle. You may also be able to claim compensation from both of them, depending on how the case ultimately turns out.

All Drivers Share Blame

There is also a chance that all three drivers will have to share the blame for the accident. That could be the case if all three drivers exhibited their own forms of negligence that eventually led to the crash.

You should be aware of this possibility because the courts may discuss it. There is also a chance that you could miss out on compensation if this kind of thing happens.

How Does the Distribution of Blame Affect the Outcome of Your Case?

Why are we focusing so much on the attribution of blame in a three-car accident? Well, that is because the amount of compensation you receive will be affected by that. The distribution of blame will also determine which parties will be responsible for paying you compensation.

The state of Connecticut follows the principle of modified comparative negligence to determine how compensation is doled out in personal injury cases.

Under that rule, a plaintiff can recover damages from a defendant as long as the former does not bear the majority of the blame for the accident. That means you can receive compensation if your share of the blame is 50%  or below.

Basically, you can still receive compensation even if you did something wrong. However, there is a limit on how much you can receive if you were partially to blame for the accident.

The amount of compensation you receive will reduce based on the percentage of blame you bear. Instead of receiving $10,000 in compensation, that amount could drop to $8,000 if the court finds that you bear 20%  of the blame for the unfortunate incident.

You should know all about the role of modified comparative negligence in your case because it can significantly impact your finances.

How Much Will the Other Drivers Have to Pay You?

Let’s say that the two other drivers involved in your accident were found negligent by the court. How much compensation can you receive from them?

In that case, the two drivers will pay compensation that is representative of the blame they share for causing the accident. You will not be getting double the amount of compensation. Instead, the compensation provided by the two responsible parties will combine to compensate you for all the losses you have incurred.

You will still get the compensation you deserve, but it may not be as much as you previously expected.

Being involved in a multi-car accident can be a nightmarish experience. The experience may get even worse when the time comes for you to seek compensation from the responsible parties. Avoid making this ordeal harder than it needs to be by working with a personal injury lawyer.

Contact us at Hassett & George, P.C. if you need expert legal representation in your injury case. We will make sure that the truth prevails in your case so you can receive fair compensation at the end of it.

Some of the locations we serve include Simsbury, Glastonbury, Hartford, and more.