When more than two vehicles rear-end each other in a single collision, this is referred to as a chain reaction accident. In such a situation, determining liability can become somewhat challenging.
Pursuing an insurance claim or an injury lawsuit may be difficult because there are several drivers involved who were each potentially somewhat careless. Determining fault in auto accidents where a chain reaction took place requires an evaluation of several different issues. The information provided here is designed to clarify the varying problems that could arise.
How Does a Multi-Car Accident Happen?
In order to help determine who is at fault in this type of accident, it is necessary to understand the multiple ways in which a chain reaction accident can occur. Two of the most common examples are:
- Example 1 – Drivers A, B, and C are behind one another in the same traffic lane. Driver A stops at an intersection. Driver B stops behind Driver A. Driver C fails to stop and crashes into the rear of Driver B’s car, pushing it into Driver A’s vehicle.
- Example 2 – Drivers 1, 2, 3, and 4 are traveling behind each other in the same lane, with Driver 2 following closely behind Driver 1. When #1 suddenly stops without warning, #2 hits him in the rear. The excess speed of #3 does not allow time for him to stop and causes him to hit #2 from behind. The resulting pile-up leads to #4 rear-ending #3.
Who is Responsible?
When filing a claim with an insurance company following a multi-car accident, it will be necessary to show liability under the legal theory of negligence. To show which driver caused the accident, one must determine whose carelessness resulted in the collision. If there is more than one negligent driver, the next step is to determine each one’s share of the liability.
A basic rule of the road is to leave a safe distance between vehicles while traveling down the roadway. This simple gesture allows sufficient time for each automobile to come to a safe and complete stop if any unexpected situations or road hazards present themselves. In general, drivers who do not maintain a safe distance and then crash into the car ahead will almost always be deemed negligent.
The individual shown to be at fault for causing the chain reaction collision is legally responsible for compensation to all parties who received damages. However, this individual’s insurer will work hard to prove that its insured is innocent or only partly responsible.
Listed below are some examples of circumstances showing liability:
- If a driver fails to use his turn signal and is then rear-ended, he will be considered liable.
- If a driver follows too closely to the vehicle ahead and then rear-ends the vehicle, he is responsible for the accident.
- If a driver is speeding and crashes into another vehicle, the speeding driver is liable.
- If a driver is distracted and plows through a stop sign at a dangerous intersection, thus causing a wreck, this driver is responsible.
The complexity of a multi-car accident requires the expertise of an experienced car accident attorney with a successful track record. Without question, the most important fact that must be proven is the negligence of the at-fault party. Several elements can help establish fault. These include:
- Evidence from the accident scene, such as vehicle debris, damage, and skid marks
- Accounts of witnesses
- Police reports
- Traffic violations of the at-fault individual
An accident victim should seek legal counsel from a highly skilled accident injury lawyer to effectively cover all bases. An effective law firm will possess the experience, knowledge, and ability to conduct an extensive investigation of the multi-car accident and build a strong legal case against the responsible party.
Whose Insurance Company Pays?
In some cases, an auto accident injury victim discovers that the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to cover the amount of damages the victim suffered. However, when multiple vehicles are involved in the collision, there are more potential insurers to receive payment from.
Georgia law requires that drivers carry a minimum of $25,000 in liability coverage. If an accident victim’s damages total more than the negligent driver’s insurance limit, the victim may not receive all that a jury has awarded. The state’s insurers are only required to pay damages up to the maximum policy limits of their insureds’ coverage and only up to the degree of fault placed upon their insured.
Various Legal Issues Involved
Even with collisions involving just two vehicles, issues of liability arise. Imagine then the complexity of untangling responsibility issues when several vehicles are involved. Here’s where a qualified auto accident attorney can benefit a victim. Experienced legal counsel seeks answers to the following questions:
- Who is liable? Several drivers and vehicle owners can be held responsible. The vehicle manufacturer could be liable if a faulty part is involved. The county or state could be responsible if road design is flawed.
- Is comparative negligence involved? With many vehicles included in a collision, several of the defendants may try to insinuate that the victim should have taken measures to prevent the accident.
- What venue will the case be heard? Typically, jurisdiction belongs to the county in which the accident occurred. However, if the victim is from another state, the case could be initiated elsewhere.
Contact a Multi-Car Accident Lawyer
If you were involved in an auto accident with more than two vehicles, contact The Eichholz Law Firm to speak with our multi-car accident lawyers.
We offer free consultations to help you learn what steps to take next when pursuing a lawsuit.