Who is to blame in the event of a multi-vehicle accident?
Car accidents involving two vehicles are sometimes tricky enough, and so, you can imagine how much trickier a multi-car accident can get.
What constitutes a multi-vehicle accident?
A multi-vehicle accident, sometimes referred to as a “pile-up”, is an accident that involves three or more vehicles. A multi-vehicle accident can occur in rear-end collisions, on the freeway (referred to as a freeway pile-up), at intersections, and in lane change crashes.
Who is at fault in a multi-vehicle accident?
The most common type of these accidents are rear-end collisions. They generally involve one of the following scenarios or a combination of both scenarios:
Scenario 1: The last car starts a “chain reaction” when the driver crashes into the back of the car immediately in front of him or her, pushing that car into the next car, and so on and so forth. A party who is struck from behind and pushed into the next car is generally not at fault.
Scenario 2: A car in the middle will strike the car in front of it, and is then rear-ended and pushed into the car in front of it a second time. In this scenario, this (middle) party will share some of the responsibility, depending on speed, property damage, and injuries.
The common question we ask our clients who are involved in a multi-vehicle rear-end accident is “how many hits did you feel”? Depending on the number of hits, we can then determine who is at fault. If our client is one of the middle vehicles, we need to determine if our client was rear-ended and pushed into the car in front of them or struck the car in front and was then rear-ended.
Biggest problems in multi-vehicle accidents
The biggest problems arising from multi-vehicle accidents are:
- Who is at fault?
- If more than one party is at fault, to what degree are each of the parties responsible?
- How much insurance is available?
The insurers of every party involved, both at-fault and non-at-fault parties, will be involved. Each will point the finger at others, and all parties will have their policy exposed to some degree.
Important tip: In a multi-car accident involving scenario 1, the driver (let’s call him Driver 1) that starts the “chain reaction” will be responsible for everyone’s injuries. This means that all injured parties must go through Driver 1’s insurance policy for compensation.
What happens if Driver 1’s policy isn’t high enough to cover everyone? That is when Uninsured Motorist coverage can save you. Uninsured Motorist coverage also covers an injured party in cases where the responsible party is “Underinsured”. Without this coverage, an injured party may not get fully compensated.”
This article is brought to you by Mason Rashtian of The Mason Law Firm, a full-service personal injury attorney and accident lawyer. We represent clients all throughout California and Los Angeles County, including the Santa Clarita Valley, Valencia, Stevenson Ranch, Canyon Country, Newhall, and the entire San Fernando Valley.
We can be reached at (661) 270-5677.
This article is meant for informational purposes only.