Who’s at Fault for a Chain-Reaction Car Accident?

The classic chain-reaction car accident involves 3 or more vehicles involved in a series of rear-end collisions. Sometimes referred to as a “pileup” or “multi-car,” chain-reaction accidents have the potential to be a liability nightmare for those involved.

In our experience, the majority of chain-reaction accidents are eventually ruled to be the fault of a single driver, due to factors such as following too closely, distraction, speed, or bad weather.

However, Boulton Law Group has also investigated a number of high-profile pileups that involved several vehicles with more than one person sharing liability.

For that reason, it is important that you consult with an experienced Indianapolis personal injury lawyer to help ensure your rights to compensation are protected.

Determining Who’s at Fault for a Multi-Car Accident

Having an attorney review a copy of your police report is typically the first step toward determining fault for a car accident involving more than two vehicles.

Most accident reports will contain enough information to help the attorney determine whether you have a potential claim for compensation. And because several scenarios can play out in chain-reaction car accidents, there may be several pieces of evidence that require closer analysis.

To better understand the potential liability factors involved in a chain-reaction accident, let’s look at the following example of a 3-car rear-end collision:

Evansville chain-reaction car accident diagram

The above diagram is from an Evansville, Indiana accident report that shows a chain-reaction crash between 3 vehicles at the westbound intersection of SR 66 (Lloyd Expressway) and Fielding Road.

According to the investigating police officers, Vehicle 3 (V3), the first car in line, was traveling West on Lloyd Expressway in the right lane, when it stopped for the light at Fielding Road. Vehicle 2 (V2), the middle car, was traveling in the same direction and stopped behind V3. Vehicle 1 (V1), the last car, was traveling behind V2.

The driver of V1 stated that he glanced at his phone for just a second to make a call, and when he looked back up he saw that V2 had come to a stop. The driver of V1 was not able to stop in time and rear-ended V2. The force of that collision was such that V2 was pushed into the rear-end of V3.

As a result of the chain-reaction crash, the driver of V2 was taken by ambulance to St. Vincent Hospital, while the driver and a passenger of V3 were transported by ambulance to Deaconess Midtown Hospital.

The accident report places 100% fault on V1 for the collision, citing “Following Too Closely” as the official cause. (Though the driver was following too closely, “distracted driving” could also be listed as a cause of this accident.) As a result, V1’s insurance company will be liable for the property damage and personal injuries incurred by the occupants of V3 and V2.

While this example is relatively clear-cut, determining liability in a chain-reaction car accident is not always simple. Attorney Matt Boulton has also settled and litigated a number of Indiana multi-car accidents that involved atypical factors, such as:

  • The driver at the front or middle of the chain-reaction accident did not have functioning brake lights.
  • One or more drivers failed to use a turn signal.
  • The driver at the front stated that they heard “two” collisions. (This means that the middle driver in a 3-car pile-up struck the lead driver, then the third vehicle rear-ended the middle vehicle.)

Depending on the findings in the police report and the seriousness of the injuries, your attorney may also employ a number of professional services or experts to determine the cause of the crash, such as an accident reconstructionist.

Common Chain-Reaction Accident Injuries

As seen in the example above, the force of a collision can cause injury to multiple parties, however, it is usually the person who is struck first in a chain-reaction accident that suffers the worst injuries, as they take the initial hit.

And depending on the types of vehicles involved, along with their speed, chain-reaction car accidents have the potential to cause any number of injuries, ranging from mild to traumatic.

Matt has helped multi-car accident clients and their families with a number of chain-reaction accident injuries, including:

If you suffered a serious injury as a result of a chain-reaction car accident, be mindful that the insurance company’s goal will be to pay as little as possible on the claim.

Alternatively, we have also witnessed instances in which the insurance company attempted to downplay a victim’s injuries because their vehicle was not the first one in the chain to be struck.

Causes of Serious Chain-Reaction Accidents

Roads throughout Indiana have served as the location for a number of multi-car accidents, including collisions that were especially egregious, such as a 9-vehicle accident on I-65 that resulted in 3 fatalities.

The cause of pileups involving the largest number of vehicles and most serious injuries often include one or more of the following factors:

  • The crash occurs on a high-speed roadway, such as an interstate or freeway.
  • A semi-truck or other commercial vehicle such as a dump truck is involved.
  • Bad weather conditions are present: snow, ice, or rain.
  • One or more drivers are found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • The collision involves a wrong-way driver.

And while any number of causes can contribute to a chain-reaction accident, it’s also important to realize that these collisions can occur anywhere, including more unlikely spots, such as roundabouts and parking lots.

Ultimately, when multiple vehicles are involved in an accident, disputed liability will always be a possibility. And because the insurance company may be responsible for multiple party’s injuries and vehicles, they may be especially aggressive in attempts to limit their exposure.

Injured In a Chain-Reaction Car Accident?

Chain-reaction car accidents have the potential to become complex cases and/or involve a limited amount of insurance. To help ensure you are fully informed of your rights, we recommend you ask Matt for advice regarding the next steps.

Matt offers Indiana accident victims and their families a Zero Fee Guarantee. This means that you will never pay for legal advice and you owe our firm nothing until we win your case.

In addition to his 20+ years’ experience helping injured Hoosiers, Matt’s clients also enjoy his dedication to personal care and genuine demeanor. He and his hand-picked legal staff aim to win their clients’ cases while also making sure they Get Treated Like Family.

To speak with Matt, call 317-350-2680, or if you prefer to write to us, please send your story through our confidential contact form. Matt personally reviews all web contacts received at our firm.

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