A 3-car accident is a complicated problem. How do insurance companies determine who is at fault in a rear-end collision involving 3 cars? Like the accident itself, the answer is also complicated.

But don’t worry. Whether you’ve been involved in a 3-way car accident or you just want to be prepared, we’re here to help.

The following guide explains everything about 3-way car accidents—from what causes them to how fault is determined and why.

If you want to be well-informed before calling your friendly attorneys at Sweet Lawyers, learn all you need to know about these accidents right here.

What Factors Determine Who Is at Fault in a Rear-End Collision Involving 3 Cars?

There are numerous ways 3-way collisions happen. Plus, each state has it’s own laws to determine fault. As such, there is no single, straightforward answer as to who is at fault in a 3-way car accident.

However, we will give you an overview of the different ways fault might be determined. Here are the main factors that insurance companies and legal authorities use to determine who is at fault in 3-car rear-end collisions.

State Law

As we said, each state has its own traffic laws that govern how to determine fault in auto accidents. As such, one of the main factors that determine fault are whether or not any of the drivers were breaking state or local driving laws.

No-Fault States

Some states avoid the expensive debacle of determining fault altogether. These “no-fault states” include:

  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah

In these states, drivers take out a no-fault insurance policy or Personal Injury Policy (PIP). Then, in the case of an accident, each driver’s injuries are paid by their own policies, regardless of fault. The only time fault is determined is when the expense of the medical bills or the seriousness of the injuries exceed what the policy covers.


Next, insurers/the legal system will determine how the accident was caused. Then, they refer to state and local traffic laws to determine fault and legal consequences.

For example, let’s say that one of the drivers is carefully following all driving laws and stops at a red light. Then, let’s say a second car stops at the light very close to the first car. Finally, a third car is speeding and not paying attention and crashes into the second car, pushing it into the first.

In this instance, the court would most likely find two of the drivers at fault, the second and the third. The third driver obviously cased the accident. But the second would probably be cited for “following too closely” instead of keeping a safe distance from the first car.

Proving Fault

Lastly, every state adheres to the nationwide judicial policy of “innocent until proven guilty.” In other words, no one is at fault if it can’t be proven.

Thus, it can be very difficult to find fault if there are no witnesses besides the drivers involved. Having 3 drivers involved makes it a little easier, though. Based on their three accounts of the event, and material evidence like images of vehicle damage, a decision will be made.

Also, many states have laws that allow drivers to challenge the verdict of being at-fault.

Determining 3-Car Accident Fault

As you now know, there are many factors that determine who is at fault in a rear-end collision involving 3 cars. Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand how the process of finding fault works and the reasoning behind it. If so, help someone else by sharing this guide on social media.