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  • Writer's pictureRobert Schuerger II

After a Multiple Car Accident, Who Pays? What to Know

The Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that roughly 13 car accidents happen every minute in the US. Most of them involve one or two drivers, but more than two cars could be included.

Many things can happen after the impact between two cars. In fact, it could lead to loss of control or deceleration of one or more parties. A chain-reaction accident on the highway could actually include over 100 cars. However, it's more common to see three cars in a multi-car accident because the driver of the third car doesn't have time to avoid hitting the other parties.

It's wise to learn as much as possible about multiple car accident issues and concerns. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can help victims deal with the aftermath and determine who was at fault.

Safe Distances Can Prevent Multi-car Accidents

Safe Distances Can Prevent Multi-car Accidents

In most cases, drivers have to obey the speed limit posted and give a safe following distance between themselves and the vehicle in front. It's impossible to know if a hazard is on the road, causing the front driver to brake or swerve. If one follows too closely to the vehicle in front, they might not be able to stop and avoid a multi-car accident.

Safe following distances are even more crucial when unpredictable weather is at hand. Drivers require more room to fully stop when snow, ice, sleet, and rain are in the mix. A driver might brake more frequently in inclement weather, and a rear driver could need a longer stopping distance to avoid hitting the front car.

Common Injuries Resulting from a Multi-car Accident

A multi-vehicle crash will usually have similar injuries as rear-end crashes. Here are some common ones to consider:

  • Traumatic brain injuries

  • Spinal cord injuries

  • Internal injuries

  • Contusions

  • Broken bones

  • Head or neck injuries

During a multi-car crash, the first two drivers could impact each other head-on, which is a serious issue. A third driver may not be able to slow down because it all happened suddenly, so they cannot react. Changing lanes might not work if another vehicle is in the way.

Likewise, the two initial drivers might incur whiplash injuries. Whenever a vehicle is rear-ended, the first driver's head could snap forward. This could lead to serious or long-lasting neck and head injuries. In fact, people with whiplash may never fully recover.

Potential Causes of a Multi-car Crash

There are many common causes of a multi-car pile-up, such as:

  • Tailgating

  • Distracted driving (a driver doesn't see a slow-moving or stopped vehicle in front of them)

  • Speeding

  • Improper lane changes (cutting off a rear driver)

  • Failure to slow when entering work zones

  • Brakes that don't work correctly

  • Failure to use turn signals to change lanes

Every driver involved could face costly damages to their vehicles and serious injuries. They deserve financial compensation. Typically, the legal rule for a three-car accident is similar for all other crashes. A driver who acts unreasonably in that situation will have to pay damages to other drivers. Still, liability isn't always easy to spot initially.

Overall, a three-car accident presents many legal challenges. It's often difficult to determine responsibility without the help of a lawyer.

Types of Multi-car Accidents (Chain-reaction Car Accident and More)

A multi-car accident includes:

  • A rear vehicle hitting a car in front, which hits the vehicle in front of that due to impact

  • A car that loses control, causing multiple vehicles behind to crash into one another

  • A car that rear-ends the vehicle in front, where the car behind can't stop in time to avoid the incident

Legal Principles to Determine Liability for a Multi-car Accident

The legal principles that apply to a two-car accident are similar to many vehicles involved at once. The insurance companies will confer to find out who was at fault. Liability depends on the events leading up to the crash.

Here are a few examples:

  • The crash occurred because the third car (driver C) struck the second car (driver B), which struck the front car (driver A). The third driver made contact first, so they're responsible for damages to the other drivers.

  • The crash happened because the second car (driver B) hit the first car (driver A), and a third car (driver C) got involved in the crash. In this situation, the second car is probably responsible for damages. However, the insurance company will try to pin most of the blame on that third driver, even though they couldn't do much to avoid the multi-car collision.

  • When multiple drivers are involved in the crash because one was driving recklessly, that reckless driver's insurance pays.

  • In multi-car pile-ups where a driver stops short, they should be held legally responsible for the damages. However, this is hard to prove because people always presume the car striking the vehicle in front is at fault. Victims will need witness testimony and other evidence to thoroughly rebut that presumption.

During a multi-car collision, the last vehicle isn't always at fault. However, the victim will need to explain their side of the story, ensuring that they leave nothing out. The stakes are quite high here. It will take effort before the insurance company untangles the events and assigns blame. Plus, insurance companies wish to avoid liability so that they don't pay multiple drivers.

Sometimes, multiple parties will share the blame. For example, in a chain-reaction accident, the general rule of a rear car being always to blame might not apply. More than one vehicle could have hit the car in front.

Proving What Happened During Multi-Car Accidents

It's easy to see the complexities involved in a car accident with more than two vehicles. Insurance companies and juries will have to work hard to determine fault, and the insurance company wants to avoid financial payments to others whenever possible. Likewise, each driver might tell a different story about the incident.

People will do whatever they must to protect themselves from a lawsuit. Therefore, drivers might lie because they don't want to shell out thousands of dollars. Victims need as much evidence as possible to back up their story, and a lawyer can help them gather everything to prove the case. That way, they're going on more than just their word.

Here are a few car accident evidence sources to consider when proving a case:

Witness Testimony

Testimony from witnesses (an objective third party) who have no financial interest in the case is often more persuasive than anything else when determining fault. Victims must hire an attorney soon after the car accident because they might find it difficult to locate witnesses after the accident.

Typically, the contact information will be on the accident report, but recollections can fade with time. Likewise, insurance companies will generally talk to the witnesses immediately to gather evidence. Victims may not get financial compensation if they miss that window.

Pictures and Videos

When multiple parties are involved in a crash, it's best to take as many pictures and videos as possible. Whether one driver pushed another into oncoming traffic or caused other drivers to crash into one person, visual proof is always essential in these cases.

Usually, local law enforcement will take photos and videos of the vehicles involved to show where they were and paint a picture. However, it's wise for victims to do the same if they're able and it's safe to do so.

Get the Police Report

Someone should call the police when the accident occurs. They will perform their initial investigation and write up a police report. The victim should try to get a copy of this document for proof later. Alternatively, a lawyer can do this for them.

Request Medical Assistance

Even if the victim wasn't seriously injured, they should still get medical assistance immediately after the accident. This will help when it's time to determine fault and whether the liable person should pay for medical bills.

Sometimes, injuries don't appear right away, so being under a doctor's care can show the progression of the injury.

Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer

If another party was at fault for the multi-vehicle accident, it's often difficult to prove. Typically, the rear car is the one to blame, and the insurance company could automatically blame the victim. They have the burden of proof here and must show that the other driver was at fault.

Overall, it's wise not to assume anything. Victims should talk to an attorney to determine what happened and who is liable. They can help rebut traditional assumptions that the victim was at fault for the incident and advise on a car accident hit on passenger side.

Most vehicle accident attorneys in Toledo offer free consultations to discuss the case and provide victims with information about the process and their rights. If the lawyer accepts the case, victims don't pay until or unless they win. Therefore, they're not out any upfront costs and can see if they have a claim.

Don't Automatically Accept the Settlement from the Insurance Company

Insurance companies could split liability for the accident. If the second car hit the lead car, and the third car (driver C) gets involved in the crash, the insurance adjuster might try and place some of the blame on the third driver, claiming that they could have avoided the incident. Likewise, insurance companies might partially blame the first vehicle if the driver stopped short or cut off another driver.

Victims don't have to live with the insurance adjuster's determination. They have legal rights that depend on the law and facts, and the insurance company can't short-circuit or circumvent them. Ultimately, a judge or jury will decide who was at fault if the insurer doesn't accept liability or make a satisfying offer.

A lawyer can help victims determine if they should file a lawsuit to stand up for their legal rights when dealing with an intersection car accidents in Ohio. Insurance companies could definitely be wrong, especially when they wish to protect their own financial assets.

Things to Do After the Multi-car Accident

The first thing to do after a multi-vehicle accident (or any incident) is to move the vehicle out of oncoming traffic if it is safe to do so and the victim is able to. Leaving a disabled vehicle on the road can put others at risk.

Next, the victim should attend to their injuries. If possible, they can also check on the passengers in the other vehicles. If it's safe to do so, victims can:

  • Speak to eyewitnesses and get contact information

  • Take photographs or videos of the scene, including damage to the vehicles

  • Note any CCTV cameras around the scene of the accident because they could have caught evidence

Once victims have gotten medical treatment, they should report the accident to their insurance company. It might also be wise to hire a lawyer at this time.

Ohio's an At-fault State

No-fault systems often make a direct way to get compensation. However, the at-fault state option Ohio uses is beneficial. Overall, the at-fault system allows flexibility. If the circumstances would call for more money than a no-fault claim allows, the victim can always file a claim with their insurance company and the other driver's insurance. Likewise, they have the right to file a lawsuit against the negligent party.

It's also important to understand that Ohio uses the comparative negligence standard. Therefore, if one driver is considered 100 percent liable, they are responsible for all the damages. Likewise, if liability is shared, the victim can recover damages up to their percentage of fault. For example, if the victim is 20 percent at fault, they can recover 80 percent of the damages.

Work with a Car Accident Attorney After a Multi-car Accident

Work with a Car Accident Attorney After a Multi-car Accident

Having insurance coverage is one way to protect oneself in a car crash. However, if the victim wasn't at fault, they may wonder which insurance pays for the accident during a multi-vehicle crash. Hiring an attorney is wise because more than two cars make it harder to prove liability.

After being injured in a multi-car accident, it's wise to contact Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys. The lawyers here go to war for Tol. Call or use the online contact form to request a free consultation today!


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