Two-car accidents are scary enough, but what about when three, four, or eight cars are involved? What should you do? Who is at fault? Furthermore, if you are injured in a multi-car accident, who will pay out your personal injury claim?
There are two main types of multi-car accidents:
- CHAIN REACTIONS
A chain reaction accident occurs when three or more vehicles rear-end each other, often caused by a single initiating collision from the car in the back of the chain. Visually, it looks something like this:
Car D rear-ends à Car C, who rear-ends à Car B, who then rear-ends à Car A
- Who is at fault?
In a chain reaction accident, determining which driver is liable is a matter of determining which driver’s negligence caused the accident. In the example above, it seems clear that Car D caused the accident. However, each driver has a responsibility to maintain a safe distance from the car in front of them, if Car C was too close to Car B, Car C may be found partially liable for the accident.
- PILE UPS
Often, pile up accidents occur in low-visibility, extreme weather conditions on crowded and high-speed routes, such as freeways. Heavy fog, slick rain, dust storms, and “white out” blizzards are common causes. Sometimes these large accidents can involve more than 100 cars.
- Who is at fault?
Determining the exact person(s) whose negligence caused the pile up is often an impossible task for investigators. Therefore, drivers will file claims with their own insurance companies to seek damages.
AT THE SCENE
For the most part, treat a multi-car accident just like any other two-car accident:
- Stay At The Scene. Don’t get out of your vehicle unless it is safe to do so.
- Call 911. And get a copy of the police report.
- Stay Calm. Also, don’t admit fault.
- Gather Evidence (witnesses, photos/videos, other drivers’ info, etc)
- Seek Medical Treatment
- Contact Your Insurance Company
WHO WILL PAY MY CLAIM?
The short answer is that the person who is liable for the accident pays your claim. The liable person is the person “at fault” for the accident. In other words, the person whose negligence caused the accident is at fault.
Some states are “no-fault liability” states. This means that it doesn’t matter who caused the accident, each driver’s own insurance company will handle their claim.
Immediately following a car accident, the police will conduct an on the scene investigation and prepare a report. Also, most insurance companies will also assign an accident investigator to investigate claims. These investigations will be used to determine who is at fault for the accident. Once determined, claims can be made against the driver who caused the accident.