Liability in 3 Car Pile Up?

by Rob

I was driving on the highway when the lead car slammed on it's brakes, causing the car in front of me to rear end the lead car and myself to rear end the second car. In short, I was the last car in a 3 car pile up. However the person in the lead car was driving on a suspended license.

What is my liability?

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Liability in 3 Car Pile Up?":

Rob (California):

In a lawsuit for injuries the absence of a current drivers license will have little effect on liability. A suspended drivers license is a separate issue and will be dealt with in the criminal courts.

Liability usually falls to the vehicle following behind. The traditional position taken by most automobile insurance companies is that the driver following must remain at least one car length behind for every ten miles an hour the vehicle is traveling.

Unfortunately, the driver in front of you may be liable for any injuries or property damage she may have caused to the vehicle in front of her. And you may be liable for any injuries or property damage you may have caused to the driver in front of you. You didn’t mention if anyone suffered any injuries. Hopefully the collision resulted in minor property damage to all 3 vehicles.

The best thing to do is to turn the matter over to your insurance company. All three insurance companies will investigate their respective insured's liability.

At this point there is little you can do other than make a full report of the incident to your insurance company’s Claims Adjuster. She will ask you for your recorded statement. That’s standard. You should know your insurance company will not automatically admit liability on your behalf.

Your insurance company doesn’t like giving away its money any more than your would. Your Adjuster will defend you as much as possible, but in the end will probably settle the case with the second driver's Claims Adjuster.

The same scenario will probably take place between the second driver and first driver and their respective insurance company Claims Adjusters.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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