Who’s Financially Responsible in a Three-Car Accident
Even a minor car accident can cause the parties involved all kinds of trouble. Now, imagine how messy things can get if you are ever involved in a three-car accident.
Numerous factors can make sorting a multi-car accident way harder than the typical two-vehicle collision. Chief among those factors is figuring out who should shoulder the blame for the incident.
We frequently get questions regarding multi-vehicle crashes as people want to know what happens in that scenario. If you are curious about that topic yourself, then you have come to the right place. Go ahead and continue reading if you wish to learn more about the aftermath of multi-vehicle accidents.
What Is a Multi-Car Accident?
To get things started, let’s first define what a multi-car accident is. Multi-car crashes involve three or more vehicles hitting one another. If only two are involved in the collision, then that is a typical auto accident.
You may also sometimes hear multi-car collisions referred to as chain reaction crashes. Authorities label that kind of incident as a chain reaction crash because of how it usually unfolds. One driver may be the cause of the initial crash, but it can snowball from there. In only a matter of seconds, a collision involving only two vehicles can turn into a large pile-up.
The danger presented by such an incident cannot be overstated. We cannot overstate the danger presented by such an incident. We must all do what we can to minimize multi-vehicle crashes, if not eliminate completely.
Common Causes of Chain Reaction Crashes
Now that we know what multi-car accidents are, we can turn our attention to a related topic similarly important. To be more specific, we will discuss the common causes of three-car accidents.
Learning about the common causes of multi-car collisions is crucial if you want to steer clear of them. Check out the bullet points below so you can protect yourself better.
- Driving Under the Influence – Driving under the influence is one of the most irresponsible things any motorist can do. You become a hazard to yourself and others when you get behind the wheel of your vehicle while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. Beyond the possibility of being involved in an accident, you should also avoid driving under the influence because it can net you fines and possible jail time.
- Distracted Driving – Drugs and alcohol are commonly highlighted as causes for crashes, but simple distractions can be dangerous too. Texting or using your smartphone while you are driving diverts your attention, and that should never happen. Even something like eating while driving can be dangerous, so try to enjoy your breakfast at home.
- Fatigue – Never underestimate the effect that fatigue can have on you and your driving skills. It is too easy to make mistakes when you are driving while dealing with fatigue. Look for a rest stop or stay at home if you are feeling tired because the driver’s seat of your car is not the place for you.
- Speeding – Speeding reduces the amount of time you have to react to the vehicles in front of you. When you notice that the car in front of you is not moving, pumping the brakes may no longer help. You may crash into that other vehicle and potentially cause a three-car accident too.
- Tailgating – For those who may be unaware, tailgating refers to sticking too closely to the vehicle in front of you. Like speeding, tailgating reduces the amount of time you have to react. You are more likely to rear-end the vehicle in front of you if you like to tailgate while driving.
- Ignoring Traffic Lights – You should remember that traffic lights not only direct your actions but also tell other motorists when to stop or go. By ignoring the red light, you risk driving straight into other vehicles and causing a massive pile-up.
- Turning Improperly – The turn signals on your car are there for a reason. Use them to signal your turn, so other drivers know what you are planning to do. You should also make sure that you are in the proper lane before turning to avoid any accidents.
- Bad Weather – Inclement weather can lead to terrible driving conditions, and it can affect numerous motorists. Snowstorms and heavy rains can affect visibility to the point where you cannot see anything in front of you. As much as possible, try to avoid driving in bad weather because you and other motorists are more susceptible to crashing during that time.
Inherent Danger of Chain Reaction Crashes
A three-car accident is dangerous. You can argue that it presents an even greater threat than the usual two-vehicle collision.
But, why are multi-car accidents inherently more dangerous? That is the question we will be answering using the bullet points in this section.
- Multiple Collisions – Individuals involved in multi-car accidents are more susceptible to serious injuries because more than one crash takes place. The Mayo Clinic notes that rear-end collisions can cause whiplash injuries and are the types of crashes in pile-ups. More parts of your body may also get injured because the forces are coming from different directions.
- Collateral Damage – An auto accident involving only two vehicles can already be quite dangerous for others because of flying debris and the potential of engines exploding. Add more vehicles to the mix, and now you have the potential for a catastrophic event. If one car’s engine explodes, numerous other drivers and vehicles may be affected.
- Large Vehicle Involvement – A large vehicle such as a 10-wheeler truck being involved in an accident can cause a disastrous chain reaction. More vehicles are likely to crash into that truck because of how large it is. On top of that, the vehicles crashing into the truck may also sustain more damage.
- Injuries to Onlookers – Many of us have this tendency to slow down or even stop when we see a car accident. It is not appropriate behavior, but it is an instinct we mindlessly follow sometimes. Do not stop if you encounter that kind of scene because you could end up being included in the wreckage as well.
- Damage to Surroundings – Do not discount the damage to the surrounding environment a multi-vehicle pile-up can cause. The road may need to be closed for a while due to the damage it sustained and surrounding structures may also be hit with debris. Whoever caused the accident may end up on the hook for some heft repair bills.
Establishing Liability from Multi-Car Accidents
In a three-car accident, who pays? That question must be answered because the victims deserve fair compensation. Of course, assigning blame in an accident involving three or more vehicles is not going to be easy.
Even if the guilty party already knows they are at fault, they will not take responsibility that easily. They know how much money they could potentially lose, so the odds of them accepting blame are low. They may also think they can pin the blame on others, given how many drivers are involved.
You need to identify the parties who are at fault for the multi-car accident. One way to do that is by identifying the drivers who were being negligent at the time the incident occurred. There are different ways to tell if a driver was being negligent.
One or More of the Drivers Involved Violated Traffic Laws
Sorting out who is to blame in a multi-vehicle collision will be complicated, but there is a way to simplify matters. What you can do is try to identify any drivers who were committing traffic violations. Usually, their illegal actions contributed to the crash.
During the investigation, the police officers may discover that one or more of the drivers involved in the accident was drunk. It is also possible that one of the drivers was distracted by their phone before the crash. Speeding is yet another example of irresponsible driving behavior. In other words, they were being negligent, and they must be held responsible.
The investigation may reveal that one driver’s negligent actions directly led to the first crash. Name them in your lawsuit so you can recoup the compensation you deserve. The other drivers will likely do the same thing.
One or More of the Drivers Involved Was Not Driving Properly
So, what if none of the drivers involved in the multi-car accident violated any traffic laws? Who will get the blame then? In that scenario, the investigators will look at how the pile-up unfolded and follow the sequence of events.
Let’s say that the accident occurred because the driver at the front of the line suddenly stopped even though the light was green. Because of their unexpected action, the driver behind them could not stop in time. More vehicles followed because the incident occurred at a busy intersection.
In that scenario, the blame can be on the driver upfront. They should not have stopped when they did. They will have to answer for what happened.
The multi-car accident could also be the result of one driver rear-ending another. They may have been tailgating on a busy stretch of the road and failed to notice the light turning. By the time they were pumping the brakes, it was already too late.
Multiple drivers can also be responsible for the incident because they were driving carelessly. Two cars tailgating in the same line can contribute to a massive pile-up. The drivers of both those vehicles will have to answer for their actions and potentially provide financial compensation.
Next Steps Following a Multi-Car Accident
Knowing who to blame following a three-car accident is one thing. That will certainly help when the time comes for you to sue. Before you worry about that, there are steps you take to ensure that you can claim fair compensation. Learn more about those steps in this section of the article.
Contact the Authorities and Emergency Services
Contact the authorities and emergency service providers as soon as you can. The emergency workers can help anyone injured at the scene. Meanwhile, the police officers can isolate the area so no one else is hurt.
You should still call the police even if it does not seem like anyone was seriously injured. They can help collect evidence and information at the scene of the accident. Unless someone needs emergency assistance, you sit and wait for the police officers to arrive. Avoid touching or moving anything in the meantime, so the accident scene remains intact.
Avoid Talking with Other Drivers Involved in the Accident
Nothing good can come from conversing with the other drivers involved in the accident. If a driver already knows they are at fault, they may try to pin the blame on you. They may also encourage you to take money instead of getting the authorities involved.
It would be best to avoid the other drivers until the police officers show up. Talking to them is only necessary if you need their contact details. Even then, you can wait for the police before you request that information.
There is no need to speak to the other drivers involved in the accident but talking to witnesses is a good idea. Approach the witnesses who saw the crash and ask them to describe what happened. You can record their statements if they are okay with that. Do not forget to ask for their contact details so you can reach out to them later.
You can also take photos of the accident scene. Take pictures of the vehicles and the surrounding areas. Those pieces of evidence will prove useful when you eventually file your lawsuit.
Go to the Doctor
Schedule a visit to the doctor following the three-car. That way, you can be certain that you did not sustain any injuries. If you were injured, the doctor will spot your symptoms before they get any worse.
Partner with Experienced Car Accident Lawyers
Lastly, you need to hire expert legal assistance to improve your chances of receiving fair compensation. Your lawyer can also handle the dealings with the police if you need more time to recover. They can also speak to the insurers of the guilty parties if they come calling.
We at Breakstone, White & Gluck are always ready to offer our legal expertise. Allow us to help you navigate the complicated aftermath of a multi-car accident, so you receive the compensation that is rightfully yours. Contact us today, and let’s get to work on your case.