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Who is Responsible in a Multi-Car Accident?

Colliding with another vehicle is scary. Getting involved in a crash with multiple cars is exponentially more terrifying. In many such accidents, vehicles are hit multiple times by other cars, often at high speeds. Because the hits just keep on coming, it’s sometimes impossible for drivers to escape their car safely. When the danger has passed, the stress of determining who is at fault for the crash begins.

Though multi-vehicle accidents can be caused by a single motorist’s negligence, many such collisions are the result of the carelessness of multiple drivers. Since any of the drivers or their passengers could potentially be injured because of that negligence, litigating such collisions can be a challenge. As with any car accident, it’s important that anyone involved in such a wreck exchange contact and insurance information with others involved. Those with injuries should seek medical attention and then speak to a personal injury lawyer for guidance on next steps.

Chain Reaction Crashes

Chain reaction crashes are the most common kind of multi-vehicle accident. This happens when one car rear-ends another, forcing them into the vehicle ahead. Involving three or more cars, such crashes occur most frequently on narrow roads or when traffic comes to an unexpected stop. Any time vehicles are too close together, chain reaction accidents can occur.

These chain collisions begin when the force of one car crash causes other vehicles to hit one another. For example, if driver one is behind driver two when driver two stops suddenly, driver one may rear-end driver two. In turn, when a third driver speeds into the scene, they may find themselves colliding into the rear of driver one. The chain reaction continues to include any other drivers who fail to slow down in time and join the pileup.

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Establishing Fault in a Multi Car Accident

In many chain reaction crashes, the driver who caused the initial collision is held liable for the damage caused in the incident. As the aforementioned example shows, however, other drivers may indeed share a part of the blame for the accident. To establish fault, an attorney will need hard evidence that a particular driver’s actions led to a crash. They may point to signs of negligence in the at-fault driver, including:

  • Failure to use a turn signal
  • Failure to use brake lights
  • Following too closely
  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving

Sometimes, even the public agency responsible for maintaining nearby road signs can be held liable for the damage done in multi-vehicle accidents.

In order to determine liability, there are a number of sources for an attorney. Eyewitness accounts, including the accounts of the drivers involved, can provide much-needed corroboration into the chain of events. Passengers in the crashed cars, passersby and drivers in the vehicles behind the collision can also provide much needed testimony.

Police reports are also incredibly valuable in determining liability. Though police may not take a hardline opinion on precisely which car caused the crash, their report can offer clues into how the collision occurred. Because they are an independent authority with no bias, their perspective into the accident can hold extra weight.

Just as a crime scene investigator would look for clues to solve a murder, a traffic accident investigator can also derive proof of precisely what happened on the day of the crash by looking into the physical evidence.

By looking at skid marks, vehicle debris and other clues about the accident, the investigator offers unique insight into what might have caused the wreck. These professionals may work for the local police force, your insurance company or your attorney. Regardless, their opinion on what led to the wreck can be truly invaluable to winning a fair car accident settlement.

Next Steps

Car accidents happen fast. So too does the chain of events in the days and weeks following a collision. Whether or not you have hard evidence of who is at fault for your accident, it’s always a good idea to speak with an attorney about your legal options. Though not all car accidents need to be litigated, multi-vehicle crashes are complicated. The multiple perspectives, injuries and damages frequently result in lawsuits involving at least two of the drivers. Even if you’re not sure you want to pursue legal action, it’s smart to consult with a personal injury lawyer to gain a better understanding of your rights after a crash.

If you’re hoping to consult with an experienced attorney about protecting your rights, Lawsuit Info Center can help connect you with a lawyer who has experience with multi car accident settlements. You may be eligible for compensation for medical bills, lost income, property damage and for the negative impact the crash had on your lifestyle. To learn how much your case could be worth, get your free case review on our website.

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About Jessica Board, ESQ
Jessica Board is a graduate of the University of Iowa School of Law and is licensed in Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. A member of the ABA Young Lawyer division, Iowa organization of Women Attorneys, and Defense Research Institute. With an undergraduate degree in finance, Jessica is passionate about educating individuals about how the law can help them recover the compensation needed to fully recover from injuries.