Multi-Vehicle Accidents: Determining Fault

Multi Vehicle Accident

Multi-vehicle accidents often happen when three or more vehicles hit each other in a “chain” of rear-end accidents. Typically, we assume that the driver who does the rear-ending is at-fault, but that is not necessarily the case in a chain reaction accident. When an accident involves three or more vehicles, how do you determine who is at fault or liable?

multi vehicle accidents three or more vehicles rear end accidents chain reaction accidentMulti-vehicle accidents are more complex not just because there are more vehicles involved, but also because they typically involve more than one contributing factor, such as weather, road conditions, following too close or unexpected braking from other drivers. In addition, more vehicles means more passengers and drivers involved with a greater number of potentially serious injuries.

Determining Fault in Missouri

Missouri is an at-fault state that uses a pure comparative fault system. This simply means each driver involved is responsible for any part of the accident he or she caused.

In a multi-vehicle accident, typically there are multiple responsible parties. Fault does not always lie with the one who caused it or started the chain reaction. Let’s take a look at the following example.


Vehicle 1 is stopped at a red light. Vehicle 2 is stopped behind Vehicle 1. Vehicle 3 rear-ends Vehicle 2 who then crashes into Vehicle 1. It was determined that Vehicle 2 was too close to Vehicle 1 so, in this case, both Vehicles 2 and 3 share in the fault of the accident. Vehicle 1 may file a claim against Vehicles 2 and 3; and Vehicle 2 may file a claim against Vehicle 3.

In this simplistic example, the drivers of Vehicles 2 and 3 will be assigned a percentage of fault in the accident, say 30% and 70% respectively. Assigning a percentage of blame is not an exact science, however, which is why it is a good idea to have a personal injury attorney involved who understand the details of the accident and how the process works.

Questions? Our knowledgeable staff is available at (877) 284-6600.

Seriously Injured in a Multi-Vehicle Accident?

car accident injuries force of impact life threatening injuriesOnce you have received medical treatment, the first step to take after being involved in an accident is to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer who will do things such as:

  • Conduct an investigation to determine how the accident occurred.
  • Gather evidence from the scene, obtain police reports and witness statements.
  • Employ experts such as someone to do an accident reconstruction.
  • Write up a demand letter that is supported by all exhibits to prove your claim.

An experienced personal injury attorney will help you recover, as applicable:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Lost future earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium


When you have been seriously injured in a multi-vehicle accident, contact the Nash & Franciskato Law Firm for a free, no-obligation review of your case.



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Past results afford no guarantee of future results and each case is different and is judged on its own merits. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published April 10, 2019. It was reviewed on October 13, 2022 and updated for content and accuracy.

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