Bam! Smash! Crash! That’s the sound of a chain-reaction car accident that involves several vehicles. One vehicle hits the next in a fast cascade of damages and injuries.
These accidents can be quite complex and confusing. In the aftermath, you may wonder who’s to blame and who will take responsibility for the expenses involved.
Finding Fault in a Chain Reaction Crash
It’s tricky to determine who’s at fault in a multiple car accident, especially when there are numerous injuries and extensive car damage. Plus, emotions are high and people may have trouble thinking clearly.
After a chain-reaction collision, it will be difficult to unravel the exact sequence of events that took place. If the crash involved a criminal act like drunk driving, a police investigator may get involved to map out the crash. Otherwise, it may be up to you and your attorney to sort it all out.
You should know that if you don’t try to prove who was at fault, you may be left solely responsible for your hospital bills, car damage, and other costs. If the accident was someone else’s fault, that sure doesn’t seem fair! By proving fault, you resolve who’s to blame and protect yourself from unexpected bills and claims against you.
It’s Not Always the Rear-End Driver’s Fault
Don’t assume you already know who will be assigned fault in a multiple car accident. You may be surprised to find that you could hold all, some, or none of the blame – even if the circumstances seem clear at first.
It might seem obvious, for example, that a rear-end driver who sets off a multi-car crash would be found 100% at fault. However, there could be an aspect of the crash you weren’t aware of because you didn’t see it.
Here are just a few examples of situations where the rear-end driver might not be found completely responsible for a chain-reaction crash:
- A big rig forced a driver out of their lane and into stopped traffic
- A distracted driver hit a line of stopped cars and fled the scene
- An erratic drunk driver backed up into traffic and caused the crash
In these situations, you might not know the whole truth until your lawyer investigates the details of the crash and shares the facts with you. There’s also the possibility that a special legal circumstance might apply and protect you from blame.
An experienced car accident lawyer may be able to help you use California’s emergency doctrine. This rule states that if you are suddenly confronted by a danger you didn’t create, you aren’t held to the same standard of care a reasonably prudent person would be expected to use in a danger-free situation.
The emergency doctrine might apply, for example, if debris flew off a truck bed and caused you to swerve into a group of cars. In rare cases, the doctrine may also apply if you experience a sudden medical emergency that renders you unable to drive your vehicle safely.
Factors to Consider When Placing the Blame
Personal injury lawyers, insurance companies, judges, and juries take many factors into consideration when deciding how to assign fault in a chain-reaction car accident. These may include things like:
- The location of the crash
- The weather and road conditions
- How each vehicle was positioned
- The damage to each vehicle
- Whether anyone violated the law
- Drunk, drugged, or distracted driving
- Accounts of witnesses
- Video footage
- Police reports and testimony
It’s also relevant to consider whether a delivery company like UberEats, DoorDash, FedEx, or UPS was involved. Maybe an Uber driver or even a driverless Uber played a role in the chain-reaction crash.
Any or all of these entities’ insurance companies may be ordered to pay for your medical costs and other damages. If you can’t recover compensation from their insurance company, you may be able to sue someone personally or even pursue your own insurance for the cost. There are lots of options.
Keep in mind that California is a comparative negligence state, where fault may be split among parties with each receiving a proportion of the blame. This is a good thing! It means even if you share partial fault, you can still get a portion of your costs paid.
If you have severe injuries and are facing mounting bills, talk to the team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers as soon as possible. We can help you sort through the complexity of your chain-reaction car accident and seek the compensation you deserve.
“My husband was in a car accident. The responsible party had State Farm Insurance. I believed that was a trusted name and I could get a fair settlement. Unfortunately State Farm was only offering to pay the medical bills plus a tiny bit more. What I was asking for for a few days lost wages was very fair. I asked Sally Morin for help. Later that same week she had got me so much more than I was originally requesting. She is amazing. After paying her fees, we had plenty to cover the bills and the lost wages plus pain and suffering. The best part was it was so easy for me. Sally Morrin took care of everything. She was honest from the start on what she felt our case was worth. (We got more than that!)” – Julie
Experience a serious multiple car accident in California?
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After an injury, contact the attorneys at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including chain-reaction car accidents. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details.
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