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Who is liable in chain-reaction collisions in California?

As we discussed in our last post, former Olympian and patriarch of the Jenner-Kardashian clan Bruce Jenner was involved in a fatal car accident last weekend in Malibu.

The four-car accident occurred when a Toyota Prius either stopped or slowed down on the Pacific Coast Highway and a white Lexus rear-ended the Prius.

Jenner, who was following the Lexus in a black Cadillac Escalade, then rear-ended the Lexus, sending it into oncoming traffic, where it was struck by a Hummer H2. The driver of the Lexus was killed in the accident.

Police have launched an investigation in effort to determine who was at fault for the accident, and it is possible that vehicular manslaughter charges could apply if gross negligence was to blame.

In most rear-end accident cases, the driver who hit the other vehicle from behind is liable for the accident because traffic laws require drivers to stay far back enough from the vehicles ahead of them so that they have enough room to suddenly apply the brakes without causing an accident.

However, it gets more complicated when a chain-reaction is involved. Typically, investigators try to determine how many impacts were felt by the drivers involved in effort to determine who bumped into who first, or, which driver’s negligence caused the accident.

Other evidence can also be used to establish negligence such as vehicle damage, eyewitness accounts, police reports citing drivers for violations and other evidence at the scene such as skid marks. Phone records can also be very valuable in proving whether drivers had been illegally using a cellphone at the time of the accident.

When more than one driver was negligent, a legal doctrine called "comparative negligence" is often used to help a jury determine which parties were at fault and to what degree.

The bottom line is that it can be very difficult to determine who was at fault in a chain-reaction collision in California, which is why it's so important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side representing your rights and interests.

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