How is Liability Determined in a Multi-Vehicle Crash in Charlotte, NC?

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Most car accidents are a result of a collision between two vehicles, or a vehicle and another object. The issue of liability is relatively straightforward in such incidents. However, some crashes may involve more than two vehicles. In such multi-vehicle accidents, the issue of liability is somewhat more complicated. It is important to understand how liability is determined in such accidents if you have been involved in one.

What is a Multi-Vehicle Crash?

In car crash claims, a crash is usually regarded as multi-vehicle when more than two vehicles are involved. Many multi-vehicle crashes occur when one vehicle acts in an unusual way, which then triggers a chain reaction involving several other vehicles.

Types of Multi-Vehicle Crashes

Two common types of multi-vehicle crashes are rear-end crashes and pile-up crashes. Here is a look at these.

Rear-End Crashes

Multi-vehicle crashes are usually of this kind. In rear-end multi-vehicle crashes, one driver usually rear-ends another vehicle. This second vehicle then hits a third vehicle due to the impact of the first collision. When rear-end collisions occur at high speeds, they can quickly embroil several vehicles.

The sequence of collisions can happen in reverse when a vehicle going in reverse fails to maintain a safe distance and ends up hitting a vehicle right behind it.


Pile-up crashes typically happen on highways. They can occur for a number of reasons. Limited visibility caused by adverse road conditions, failure of a vehicle to apply brakes in time, unexpected traffic blocks, and other causes can lead to pile-up collisions.

Who is Responsible for Multi-Vehicle Crashes?

Given the fact that several vehicles and drivers are involved in a multi-vehicle crash, determining liability can be a tricky issue. In some multi-vehicle accidents, only one driver is at fault. In others, fault is distributed across multiple drivers.

Determining Liability in Multi-Vehicle Crashes

Liability in a multi-vehicle crash is determined according to the nature of the accident. In most rear-end multi-vehicle crashes, the liability usually falls on the first driver who first collided with another vehicle.

However, if the other driver was overspeeding at the time, applied sudden brakes without a sound reason, or was tailgating, then the other driver may be held liable. Depending on the circumstances of the case, both drivers may have contributed to the crash and can both be held liable.

When trying to prove negligence in a case like this, it is important to have sound legal help. This is because North Carolina uses a pure contributory negligence rule. As per this rule, you won’t get any compensatory damages if you are found even 1% at fault in a multi-vehicle accident. So the other parties involved in the crash, or the insurance companies of the at-fault parties, will try their best to claim that you were partly at fault in order to bar you from getting damages.

Joint and Several Liability in Multi-Vehicle Crashes

In addition to contributory negligence, North Carolina law also offers joint and several liability in multi-vehicle crashes. This allows an injured victim in a multi-crash vehicle to recover all the compensatory damages from a single at-fault party, instead of filing a claim against all the at-fault parties. In such an arrangement, you are essentially saved the time and hassle of going after multiple defendants.

The defendants can reach an agreement of some sort to decide how much each will pool for the damages paid to you as the plaintiff.

However, a joint and several liability arrangement doesn’t work as effectively when a single defendant doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for your losses. In such a scenario, you will need to file a claim against multiple parties in order to recoup the full amount of your losses. Furthermore, you can also settle with one at-fault party and sue the others.

Get a Reliable Charlotte Car Accident Lawyer

If you have been involved in a multi-vehicle accident, it is critically important to hire a qualified car accident lawyer at the earliest. As noted above, recovering compensation in multi-vehicle crashes can be quite complicated.

Here at Ted Greve & Associates, we help car crash victims in Charlotte, NC get the maximum amount of compensation. We work with you to decide how to prove the fault of the negligent parties, whether to seek a joint and several arrangement, and how to choose between filing a claim and suing a party. Get in touch today to discuss the details of your case.