Personal Injury Blog

Who is At Fault for a Multi-Vehicle Accident on a NJ Highway?

Also referred to as a “chain reaction” accident, a multi-vehicle pile-up often causes a highway or service road to be shut down for an extended period. A major inconvenience for other road users, it is a devastating event for everyone directly involved.

It is often difficult to decide who is responsible for such accidents. There is often at least one driver who could have taken a different action to prevent the collision. Determining your rights in any car accident can be an overwhelming process, not to mention such a complicated collision. The attorneys at Leonard Legal Group are here to bring clarity during chaos.

Causes of Multi-Vehicle Accidents

Factors contributing to a multi-vehicle accident include:

The most common cause of a “chain reaction” accident is a rear-end collision. This is often the result of the car in back not gauging the speed of the vehicles in front. In many circumstances, the at-fault driver may be distracted, perhaps not seeing that a pedestrian has crossed in front of the lead vehicle. It only takes a split second for a driver to not be focused on the road for an accident to occur.

“No-Fault” Car Insurance in New Jersey

In New Jersey, your insurance will cover any medical expenses associated with an accident, even if you were at fault. All policyholders are required to carry a minimum amount of $15,000 in personal injury protection (“PIP”) and coverage can be up to $250,000.

If another driver caused damage to your vehicle, you do have the option to file the claim either with their insurance company or your own. Filing with the other driver’s insurer would be classified as a “third-party” claim,” and as a “first-party” claim if you file with your own insurer. Often when filing a “third party claim,” the amount that the other driver’s insurance company is willing to reimburse may not cover your damages. If it is unclear who is responsible for the “chain reaction” pile-up, it is best to file the claim with your own insurance company.

Often, there may be a combination of factors that led to the multi-vehicle pile-up. When an insurance adjuster conducts their investigation, they will need to review all the evidence, including the police report, traffic camera footage, and witness testimony if available. Your insurance company will then make their determination of which driver is responsible for the collision. In the meantime, it is wise to contact a New Jersey car accident attorney to review your case.

New Jersey Modified Comparative Negligence

Under New Jersey Rev. Stat. §2A: 15-5.1, the claimant is barred from recovering if they are 51% or more responsible for the accident. The claimant is unable to receive compensation if they were more at fault for the accident than the other drivers. The percentage of fault that is attributed to the claimant will be taken away from their monetary award.

The Garden State is among a handful of states that follows the 51% rule for modified comparative negligence. As long as the majority of fault is not attributed to you, then you are eligible to recover under New Jersey law.

A New Jersey Car Accident Attorney at Your Side

If you have been involved in a multi-vehicle accident, you need an attorney who has experience negotiating with insurance companies. Don’t let the other driver’s insurance company not pay out their fair share. Contact Leonard Legal Group today.