What Happens When More Than One Person Causes a Car Accident?

Five people were recently injured in a West Hollywood crash involving multiple vehicles. At least two of the victims suffered serious and life-threatening injuries. Details about what caused the car accident has not yet been released. The factors that caused the accident will significantly affect which victims can recover compensation and how much they can get.

Determining Fault for a Los Angeles Accident

Some accidents do not have one specific cause. Instead, there are multiple factors that contribute to these accidents. How are fault and liability divided after an accident when more than one party is at fault?

In California, the laws are based on the theory of comparative fault. This essentially means that any person who contributes to the cause of an accident can be held financially responsible for injuries that occur.

Negligence

A person (or entity) will be liable for injuries if their negligence contributed to an injury-causing accident. Negligence occurs when you have and breach a duty of care to others. In California, every driver who gets behind the wheel of a car assumes a duty of care to others on the road. This includes other drivers, passengers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. Basically, anyone who could be harmed by the driver’s wrongful conduct is owed a duty of care.

This duty requires drivers to have a valid driver’s license, obey posted traffic laws, and operate the vehicle with caution. The aim of this duty is to prevent foreseeable harm. Violations of this duty put others at an increased risk of harm. When this breach of duty actually causes harm the driver will be considered negligent. This negligence exposes the at-fault driver to liability for harm.

Allocating Fault

Each at-fault party will be liable to the degree they contributed to the accident. This includes victims who contribute to the cause of their own accident. Under California law, an injured person will be entitled to recover compensation unless they are entirely responsible for the accident. In theory, a victim who is 99% responsible for an accident can still recover compensation because they were not entirely at-fault.

Let’s look back at the West Hollywood crash that happened earlier this year. According to police reports, three vehicles were involved in the crash. First, assume that Driver A is determined to be 30 percent at-fault and Driver B is determined to be 70 percent at-fault. Driver C did not contribute to the cause of the accident at all, but did suffer serious injuries in the accident.

Under California law, all of the injured victims will be entitled to recover compensation because no one was entirely at-fault for the crash. However, Driver A will only be able to recover 70 percent of his accident-related injuries from other parties. His ability to recover compensation is reduced by his own degree of fault.

Driver B will only be able to recover 30 percent of his accident-related injuries. HIs ability to recover compensation is also reduced by his own degree of fault. Driver C (and others who were injured in the crash) will be entitled to recover 100 percent of their accident-related injuries.

What if Driver A was entirely at-fault? In that case, Driver A would be prohibited from recovering any compensation from other parties. All of the other injured parties would be able to recover 100 percent of their damages from Driver A. As you can see, your own degree of fault can either reduce or prohibit the amount of compensation you can recover.

Investigating an Accident with Multiple At-Fault Parties

An investigation into your crash is essential when you are involved in a car accident that has multiple at-fault parties. Even the slightest assignment of fault can seriously affect your ability to recover much-needed compensation. Hiring an attorney to handle your case and conduct an in-depth investigation will increase the chances of maximizing the compensation you receive. The purpose of this investigation is to reduce the degree of fault that is attributed to you. During this investigation your attorney may:

  • Review police reports, medical evaluations, and witness statements;
  • Analyze photographs and/or video footage of the accident;
  • Speak with eyewitnesses who can shed light on what caused the accident;
  • Consult with expert witnesses; and
  • Search for discrepancies in other parties’ stories.

Learn More About Determining Fault After a Los Angeles Car Accident

Have you been involved in a Los Angeles car accident where more than one person was at-fault? It is important to understand how fault will be apportioned in your case. Call the Citywide Law Group for immediate legal assistance. During your free consultation, we will review your case and determine the best strategy for moving forward. Early intervention is important for a successful outcome, so do not hesitate to contact our office today.