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Multi-Car Accidents: Determine Fault & Liability with A Premier Attorney

Know your rights. Get help filing a claim. Learn the settlement process from an experienced multi-car accident attorney.

Multi-car accidents involve three or more vehicles. They typically occur on highways or busy roads with high traffic volumes. The impact of the initial collision can cause a ripple effect, causing other cars to collide with each other.

The severity and complexity of a multi-car accident can vary based on factors such as:

It’s important to know what you can do after a multi-car crash. A Premier Attorney can investigate your crash, determine who was at fault, and help you get fully compensated for your losses.

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Crashes involving multiple vehicles can occur in many ways. Here are some common scenarios:

  • Chain reaction crashes: Chain reaction crashes occur when multiple vehicles are involved in a pile-up or a series of collisions. They typically happen on busy highways or during rush hour traffic.
  • Head-on collisions: Head-on collisions happen when two vehicles traveling in opposite directions collide with each other. These crashes are often catastrophic due to the combined force of the vehicles involved. In the aftermath, the two vehicles may end up in multiple lanes of traffic, increasing the risk of another car being involved in the crash.
  • Side-impact crashes: Side-impact crashes, also known as T-bone accidents, occur when the front end of one vehicle strikes the side of another vehicle. These accidents often happen at intersections when one vehicle fails to yield or runs a red light. If there are multiple vehicles trying to navigate the intersection, this can easily lead to a multi-vehicle crash.
  • Rear-end collisions: Rear-end collisions happen when one vehicle collides with the vehicle in front of it. In heavy traffic, rear-end collisions often become multi-vehicle pileups.

Multi-car crashes can occur for a variety of reasons. The most common ones include: 

  • Distracted driving: Distracted driving often includes texting, using in-car technologies, or even just daydreaming. It greatly increases the risk of accidents, as it takes away focus from the task at hand.
  • Impaired driving: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not only illegal but also extremely dangerous. It slows reaction time, impairs judgment, and decreases coordination.
  • Drowsy driving: Drowsy driving happens due to lack of sleep, long hours on the road, or untreated sleep disorders. It impairs a driver's ability to focus, affects reaction time, and decreases awareness of the surrounding environment.
  • Reckless driving: Disregarding traffic laws and the safety of others poses a significant threat to everyone on the road. It includes behaviors such as excessive speeding, aggressive driving, tailgating, running red lights, and weaving through traffic. Tailgating is especially likely to lead to a pileup if the vehicle in front is involved in another crash.
  • Hazardous weather conditions: Slippery and icy roads, and high winds, often make roadways unsafe to drive on. Roughly 21% of all crashes in the U.S. each year are weather-related.
  • Poor visibility: Poor visibility is often caused by heavy rain, fog, snow, and lack of lighting. Fog alone contributes to over 38,700 crashes across the U.S. each year.
  • Vehicle malfunctions: A brake failure or a tire blowout can happen unexpectedly. This often leads to loss of control and catastrophic crashes, especially on busy roadways.
  • Road defects: Potholes, uneven surfaces, and debris can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles.

Trying to determine who is at fault in a multi-vehicle accident can be a tricky and complicated process. Depending on the state in which the accident occurred, different laws may apply when determining fault.

All states use some version of the comparative negligence rule to determine fault. This involves assigning fault to each party based on their contributions to the crash. In cases where multiple parties have violated traffic laws, comparative negligence helps in assigning blame by percentages. The types of comparative negligence include: 

  • Pure comparative negligence: Every injured party can recover damages based on their percentage of fault. Even if you are 90% at fault for the accident, you can still recover damages for the 10% that was not your fault (at least in theory).
  • Modified comparative negligence: If an injured party's fault exceeds 50% or 51%, they may be barred from recovering any damages. If they are partially at fault but less than 50% or 51%, their damages will be reduced by their percentage of fault.
  • Contributory negligence: Contributory negligence is far stricter than comparative negligence. If the injured party is found to have contributed to the accident in any way, they may be completely barred from recovering damages.

Additional factors that help prove fault after a multi-car collision

Other factors used to determine fault in a multi-vehicle crash include:

  • Police reports: Police reports provide an objective account of the incident. They document factors such as road conditions, weather, and traffic violations.
  • Witness testimony: Witness statements add another perspective to the investigation. They offer insights into how the crash unfolded from a third-party standpoint.
  • Accident reconstruction: Accident reconstruction experts can reconstruct the events leading up to the crash. They utilize scientific analysis to determine vehicle speeds and other factors.
  • Video footage: Video footage can come from surveillance cameras, traffic cameras, dashcams, and even cell phones. They provide invaluable visual evidence and capture the sequence of events leading to a multi-car crash.
  • Pictures of the crash scene: Crash scene photos can capture crucial details that aid in the investigation. This can include vehicle damage, visible injuries, skid marks, debris patterns, and damage to surrounding structures.

Whose insurance pays in a multi-car accident?

Determining whose insurance pays after a multi-vehicle accident can be complicated. There are often multiple insurance companies involved in a single case. The at-fault driver's insurance is typically responsible for covering the damages. But with so many parties and insurance companies involved, determining who contributed fault to a crash requires a thorough investigation.

It’s worth noting that multi-vehicle accident investigations are often biased. An at-fault driver’s insurance company may hire their own adjusters and private investigators to protect their bottom line. That’s because they stand to lose a significant amount of money when paying out settlements for multiple injured parties.

When you’re involved in a multi-vehicle accident, there’s too much at stake to handle it alone. Following the steps outlined below can help you build a strong case and maximize your compensation.

Step 1: Take safety precautions

Immediate safety precautions are crucial after a multi-car crash to protect yourself and others involved. Be sure to do the following: 

  • Check for injuries and prioritize medical attention for anyone who needs it.
  • Move to a safe location, if necessary, to avoid further danger from passing vehicles.
  • Use your hazard lights to make sure other motorists can see your disabled vehicle.
  • Call the police to report the crash.
  • Exchange information with the other parties involved. This includes names, contact information, insurance providers, policy numbers, and license plate numbers.

Step 2: Collect evidence from the crash scene

Collecting evidence from a crash scene immediately after a car accident is crucial in building a strong case. Carefully document the crash scene by:

  • Taking photos.
  • Gathering witness information.
  • Noting road conditions and weather.
  • Taking note of nearby surveillance cameras.

Step 3: Get medical attention

You should always get medical attention after a multi-car accident, regardless of how you feel. Many injuries take time to fully develop. For example, you may sustain whiplash from the impact of a collision. A few days later, you may experience a headache, neck pain, and tingling in your limbs.

You can address a potential injury early on by getting immediate medical attention. This will help you in the recovery process and when proving the extent of your injury.

Step 4: Report the crash to your insurance company

Always report the crash to your insurance company as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to build a viable claim. Be sure to include:

  • Your policy number and personal details.
  • The date, time, and location of the crash.
  • Basic details about the crash.
  • Contact and insurance information for the other parties involved.

When reporting your crash, stick to the basics. Don’t go too far into the details, as anything you say can jeopardize your claim. Let an experienced car accident attorney do the rest of the talking for you.

Step 5: Speak to a car accident lawyer

Once you’ve followed the above steps, speak to an experienced car accident lawyer who can advocate for you. An attorney will counsel you on your rights and determine the right legal avenue to handle your case. They’ll help maximize your compensation by:

  • Thoroughly investigating your multi-car collision.
  • Dealing with insurance companies on your behalf.
  • Calculating how much money you’re eligible for in damages.
  • Handling all the complex paperwork.
  • Negotiating for a fair financial settlement.
  • Taking your case to trial, if necessary.

Don’t face the aftermath of a multi-car accident without legal representation. Consult with a Premier Attorney who will fight to protect your rights, seek justice, and help you get the compensation you deserve.

If you can’t afford an attorney, no problem. Our verified attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis and will only take a percentage of your compensation if they win your case. Don’t wait! Get a free consultation today.

Injured? Call Now
Talk to a LAW.COM Premier Attorney today!

Free Evaluation

Tell us about your potential case.

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Injured? Speak to a LAW.COM
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1-866-828-0442 or Submit Your Case Form