Determining Liability in a Multi-Car Crash in Colorado

Posted On July 5, 2022 / By Manning Law / Car Accidents

Proving fault for a car accident can be the most difficult part of an insurance claim in Colorado. Under the state’s tort law, you or your car accident lawyer in Aurora must establish that the other driver (or a third party) is liable for your accident with at least a 51 percent likelihood. In a multi-car crash, determining liability is tricky, as there is often a great deal of confusion around who caused the crash.

How Is Fault Determined in a Multi-Vehicle Accident?

A multi-car accident can take the form of a chain reaction crash, which resembles a string of rear-end collisions, or a pileup of vehicles colliding from different directions. It could also involve two vehicles in an initial crash, then additional vehicles as one of the first cars loses control and veers into traffic. Multi-vehicle accidents always require in-depth investigations to determine which driver should be legally and financially responsible.

Determining fault or liability requires answering a few questions:

  • Which driver caused the very first collision?
  • Which driver was violating a traffic law at the time of the crash?
  • Were any of the drivers behaving negligently or recklessly at the time of the crash?
  • Was there a third variable that made the first driver crash, such as a road hazard or a vehicle defect?

In a chain-reaction car accident, the driver that caused the initial rear-end collision is generally found liable for the full accident, even if the first driver’s vehicle never actually touched vehicles three, four, etc. If a multi-car crash takes another form, it is necessary to determine which driver is to blame for the initial collision that generated the subsequent accidents. In some multi-car accidents, liability goes to more than one of the parties involved.

Comparative Negligence Car Accident Law in Colorado

In Colorado, if more than one party is found at fault for a car accident, the comparative negligence law will apply. This law states that as long as a party is less than 50 percent at fault for a car accident, he or she can still recover compensation. However, that party’s compensatory award will be diminished by his or her percentage of fault. If a victim is found to be 51 percent or more at fault for a multi-vehicle accident, he or she will be barred from a monetary recovery completely.

Expect Trouble From an Insurance Company After a Multi-Car Accident

It is important to take the right steps to protect yourself from liability after a multi-car accident in Colorado. This is the only way you can file a claim through another person’s insurance provider to obtain coverage for your medical expenses, property damage, lost income and other damages. Failing to establish negligence can mean having to pay for your losses from your own car insurance policy or out of pocket.

Insurance companies do not like to settle multi-car accident cases. Car insurance companies are likely to argue about which policyholder is at fault, with each company attempting to avoid liability for the multi-vehicle accident. This is why you must take certain steps after your collision to protect yourself and start building a claim against another driver early on. Working with an experienced Aurora personal injury lawyer can help handle communications with the auto insurance company while you focus on recovering from your injuries.

What to Do After a Multi-Car Accident

Begin by calling 911 to report the accident immediately. When the police arrive, give them your side of the story but don’t admit fault. Take pictures and record video footage while you’re still at the scene. Exchange information with all of the other drivers. If there are any vehicle passengers or eyewitnesses, get their names and contact information for statements later. Document everything, including asking for your police report number and writing down a description of what happened while the details are still clear in your mind.

Notify your car insurance company of the car accident right away. Don’t give them a recorded statement or accept a settlement, however, until you’ve spoken to an attorney. Go to a hospital for immediate medical care if you’ve been injured. Then, contact a car accident lawyer in Denver for assistance determining and proving liability for a multi-car accident.