Multi-car accidents are generally preventable and are often the result of negligence on the part of one or more drivers.
Multi-car accidents often result in serious injuries and fatalities. When it comes to establishing liability for these accidents, things can get quite tricky, because there are numerous vehicles and drivers involved.
Where Multi-Vehicle Crashes Often Occur
Accidents involving multiple vehicles can happen anywhere. However, there are certain locations and situations where these accidents happen more frequently. Some of them are:
- Areas with high traffic density and vehicles moving at high speeds.
- Intersection crashes often take place when a vehicle runs a red light, resulting in multiple vehicles on that intersection crashing into each other
- Interstate freeways and other highways. The vehicles travel at very high speeds and the drivers may fail to react quickly to the situation ahead and end up crashing into another car.
- Winding roads and roads with blind turns where a driver may suddenly encounter stopped traffic or an accident site immediately after a bend and would not have sufficient time or room to react.
- Roads with snow, ice, or that are slick are more prone to accidents. A driver may fail to control his or her car and can end up hitting an impaired vehicle.
- Low visibility due to fog, rain, smoke, snow, or dust impairs the drivers’ vision and can result in a car crash when the driver fails to see stopped traffic ahead on the road.
Multi-vehicle crashes happen on urban as well as rural roads. The main cause of accidents on urban roads is high speed of vehicles on the highways and heavy density of traffic in the cities; whereas, curvy and narrow roads are the most common cause of multi-vehicle accidents in the rural areas.
We hear of these types of accidents as highway pileups. Most often they happen during times of high traffic volume and are usually caused by one inattentive driver who fails to brake in time for slowed or stopped traffic. It may also happen on a quieter roadway, where one driver hits a car while barreling through a red light, causing that car to spin uncontrollably into the path of oncoming traffic.
This type of collision occurs when one car hits another car from behind. In some cases, such an accident may involve more than two cars. The rear car is almost always at fault in the event of a rear-end collision; however, there are exceptions.
Let’s first understand why the rear car’s driver is almost always held responsible for the accident – even in cases where the front car’s driver stopped or slowed down his vehicle suddenly. This is because the Assured Clear Distance Ahead (ACDA) rule requires that the person driving the rear car maintain a safe distance between his car and the car in front. In other words, a car’s driver need to make sure that he does not follow another car too closely or drive too fast to get enough time to stop and avoid a collision, should the car in front stops or slows down suddenly.
Cause of Multi-Vehicle Crashes
Multi-car accidents are generally preventable. Most multi-car accidents are a result of negligence on the part of one or more drivers. Some of the common causes of multi-car accidents are –
- Weather – Bad weather conditions like snow, fog, rain, or ice on the roads necessitate drivers to exercise caution and drive extra safely. When drivers fail to do so, multi-car accidents can take place as bad weather affects visibility.
- Speeding – Speeding is an extremely dangerous habit. Some of the most deadly multi-car accidents result from over-speeding. Speeding related accidents often result in more severe injuries and fatalities.
- Drowsy driving – Drivers need to be constantly vigilant on roads. If a driver gets drowsy or falls asleep, he may not know when to stop, steer or reduce the speed of the car, causing an accident on the road.
- Tailgating – Tailgating is another dangerous habit that does not give the tailgating driver sufficient reaction time to slow down or stop his car, resulting in a rear-end collision and at times, a pile-up.
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving has become an increasingly serious safety hazard. Talking, texting, or web browsing combined with other activities like eating, drinking or even co-passengers can lead to multi-car accidents.
- Rubbernecking – Driver focusing on another accident without paying attention to the road ahead of them can cause a multi-vehicle accident.
- Disregarding construction zone signs – Often, the traffic lanes are narrow on construction sites and there are traffic jams, where vehicles pass through in single files. Construction zone multi-car accidents take place when drivers over speed, zipper merge unsafely or simply do not adhere to traffic rules.
Evidence in a Multi Car Accident
If you find yourself involved in a multi car accident, it’s important to know that evidence will be crucial in building your case and seeking compensation for your injuries. The following should be considered:
- Why evidence is crucial in these types of accidents.
- Types of evidence that can be helpful.
- How an experienced car accident attorney can help you gather and preserve evidence.
Why Is Evidence Crucial in a Multi-Car Accident Case?
If you’ve been involved in a multi-car accident, there’s a good chance that one of the drivers will try to blame the other two. They may say that they weren’t at fault, or that the other drivers were speeding, or that they ran a red light. This driver may even have a passenger or witness who backs up their story.
This is why evidence is so important in a multi-car accident case. The right evidence can help prove who was at fault, and it can also help disprove stories that conflict with the facst. This can be vital in getting the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
There is also the issue of insurance companies. Insurance companies are notorious for offering accident victims lowball settlement offers in an attempt to get them to settle for less than they deserve. However, when you’re dealing with a multi-car accident, the insurance companies will be even more aggressive. They may say that one of the other drivers was at fault or that your injuries aren’t as bad as you say they are.
Again, this is where evidence comes in. The right evidence can help disprove the insurance companies’ stories and show that you deserve full and fair compensation for your injuries.
What Types of Evidence Can Be Helpful?
There are a number of different types of evidence that can be helpful in a multi-car accident case. Some of the most common include:
- Photos and videos of the accident scene
- The police report
- Eyewitness testimony
- Accident reconstruction experts
- Cell phone records
- Dashcam footage
This is by no means an exhaustive list. However, it should give you an idea of the types of evidence that can be helpful in your case.
How Vehicle Damage Can Establish Fault in a Rear-End Collision
Damages caused to the vehicles involved in a rear-end accident are often the biggest proof of what happened in the accident and who was at fault. For instance, in an accident involving two cars, it is almost always evident that the car with a damaged front-end struck the other car from behind, while the car with a damaged rear-end was hit by the tailing car. The nature of the damages often reveals how the accident occurred.
What if a Collision between Two Cars is Caused by a Third Car?
In an accident involving three cars, the last or the third car may hit the second or the middle car, pushing the front-end of the middle car into the back of the first car. In such an accident, the liability is often placed on the third car’s driver. This means that the first and the second cars’ drivers are entitled to claim financial compensation from the third car’s driver for the damages to their cars. In this case, even though the second car struck the first car from behind, the driver of the second car was not at fault for the accident, because the collision between the first and the second car resulted from a prior collision between the third car and the second car, in which the second car’s driver had no fault. In some situations, even the third car’s driver may file a claim against a third-party driver, who caused the second car’s driver to stop or slow down his car suddenly, thereby causing a collision between the second and the third car.
What if The Middle Car’s Driver is Partially at Fault?
In some cases, the middle car’s driver in a rear-end accident involving three cars may be partially at fault. This could be a case where the middle car driver’s negligence is partially responsible for the accident. For instance, the middle car could be held partially responsible for the accident if the car’s horn or brake was not working at the time of the accident or if one of its tires blew at that time. In such cases, the second car’s driver may end up receiving a lower amount of compensation or even no compensation at all.Multi-Vehicle Accident Attorney St. Louis
When you are in a car accident in St. Louis and there are only two cars involved, deciphering who is at fault and liable for damages and injuries may not be too difficult. However, when there are more than two cars involved, things can get pretty complex. What you do following the accident is vital to proving who is at fault and to receive fair compensation for your injuries and damages. There are important steps that you should take to ensure that you get all that you are entitled to.
Seek Medical Care
Even if you think that your injuries are nothing more serious than a few minor scrapes and bruises, it is critical to seek medical care. Not only do you want to prove causation, but if your injuries become more prominent over time, you will also want to make sure that you have the proper documentation to prove that you were injured at all. Before you take any other steps, make sure to take care of yourself and your health.
Gather Evidence at the Accident Site
Make sure to gather as much information as you can at the scene of the accident. If you have to seek emergency medical care, try to get someone to gather information for you. You will generally need to call the police and have a police report filed out. Although it’s not admissible in court to determine liability, a police report will help your St. Louis car accident attorney negotiate a settlement and decipher who is responsible for the accident.
The evidence you will want to gather are things like photos, videos, and all the information of the drivers involved. It isn’t enough to get just their first and last names. You will want to get their driver’s license number, their addresses, and their insurance company’s information as well.
If there were any eyewitnesses, you should also try to get a record of their recount of events in writing. You will also want to get their contact information, in case the insurance company or your St. Louis car accident lawyer wants to speak with them about what they saw.
How Can an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Help You Gather and Preserve Evidence?
An experienced St. Louis car accident attorney can be a great help in any car accident case. However, they can be especially helpful in a multi-car accident case. Here are just a few ways that an attorney can help you:
- They can help investigate the accident and gather evidence, including eyewitness testimony, photos and videos of the accident scene, and the police report.
- They can help preserve evidence, such as dash cam footage and cell phone records.
- They can help you find and work with accident reconstruction experts.
- They can help you negotiate with the insurance companies and get you the full and fair compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Call a St. Louis Car Accident Attorney
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can handle the insurance company on your own. The insurance company’s objective is not to make sure that you are fairly compensated; it is to limit their losses. Even though the goal is generally to settle out of court, the best way to ensure that you are getting all you are entitled to is to speak with a professional who understands how to calculate things like economic and non-economic damages.
If you are in a multiple car accident in St. Louis, Missouri, things like liability can quickly become complex. Instead of trying to handle it all on your own, speak with a St. Louis car accident lawyer to ensure that you are protected and that you receive fair compensation for your damages and injuries.
At The Hoffmann Law Firm, we have extensive experience handling all car accident cases, including multi-car accidents. We have 25 years of experience and understand the common tactics insurance companies use to minimize the amount of compensation you receive. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Free Consultation with a St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer
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