In the moments after a car accident, confusion and chaos often ensue between the drivers and passengers involved in the accident. While most incidents involve two vehicles, there are some times when there are three or more vehicles involved. When this happens, who is determined to be at fault in the accident?
The short answer may not be so easy to answer, as it can depend on many factors. The possibilities could be endless, so your responsibility after an accident is to take care of yourself and your passengers first before pointing your finger at another driver.
Multiple vehicle accidents are known as chain-reaction accidents and occur when two vehicles collide, and the collision causes another vehicle to collide with one of the other two vehicles. In the worst accidents, you may have many vehicles involved with many people injured and debris all over the roadway.
Who Is At Fault in a Chain Reaction Accident?
When determining who is at fault, the driver who started the chain-reaction accident is often determined to be liable for the crash. This is not always the case, but it is up to insurance claims representatives, investigators, and police officers to try to piece together the events leading to the accident scene. There are times when multiple parties are found to be liable for an accident.
When One Party Causes the Accident
Here are a couple of examples where one vehicle is found liable for a multi-vehicle crash:
- Driver 1 rear-ends Driver 2, which pushes Driver 2 into Driver 3. Drivers 2 and 3 are already stopped at the intersection, but the force of the impact from 1 to 2 forces 2 to rear-end 3.
- Driver 1 is speeding and does a quick left lane change to avoid a vehicle, but clips the passenger rear of Driver 2, forcing 2 to spin into Driver 3.
When Two Parties Are Found Liable
The details get more complicated and complex when multiple vehicles are found liable for an accident. Multiple witnesses, investigators and insurance representatives will need to get involved to try to piece together the events of a chain-reaction accident. To determine negligence, they may use evidence such as:
- On-board cameras
- Roadway skid marks
- Witness statements
- Traffic violations and citations
- Police reports
- Other videos and documentation
Regardless of who is found to be at fault in the accident, your first priority after an accident is to make sure you and your passengers are okay. Once your safety is secure, you can begin to assess the situation and get the police involved.
You Need Legal Representation
Oftentimes, there is a lot of chaos and confusion after a chain-reaction crash. Insurance adjusters can spend a lot of time investigating the crash, and you could be unfairly blamed for property damage or personal injuries that are not your fault.
You should never assume the police officers or the insurance companies are just going to figure it out. People tend to lie, the stories change as the memories fade, and the insurance companies want to protect their own financial interests. If they can figure out how to place liability on you to deny compensation for your injuries and damages, they will take advantage of this.
As you can see, these types of accidents are complicated to resolve, and you need legal representation that will protect your rights when no one else is looking out for your best interests.
Craig Follis with Epperly & Follis has decades of experience resolving personal injury cases in the Richmond area. Get in touch today to schedule your initial consultation and ensure your rights are protected after a chain-reaction accident.