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Determining Fault in a Multi-Vehicle Accident Can Be Complicated

Drew Duncan
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Partner at Zimmer, Duncan and Cole, LLP

Because of the number of vehicles and people involved, multi-vehicle crashes can be terrifying. These accidents can cause catastrophic injuries, especially on South Dakota highways where cars are traveling at high speeds. Determining who is at fault in a multi-car pile up can be extremely challenging, especially in a wreck involving 10 or more vehicles. But if you are a victim, this is exactly what you will need to do to get the compensation you could be entitled to. Fortunately, you do not need to do this on your own. An experienced car accident attorney can help you sort out the liable parties to ensure you receive a favorable settlement.

How Will My Attorney Determine Who Must Compensate Me for My Injuries? 

Fault in a chain reaction crash often involves more than one person’s negligence. One rule that usually helps determine responsibility is that all drivers are required to maintain a safe distance between their vehicle and the car in front of them, so they have sufficient time to stop if there is a hazard on the road or the driver in front of them needs to slam on the brakes. In almost all multi-vehicle accidents, the driver at the back who rear-ends the vehicle in front of him and starts the pile-up will face the most liability in the accident.

But what happens when the chain reaction would have involved fewer vehicles if another driver had been more careful? Or if more than one driver was engaged in unsafe practices like talking on their cellphones, texting, or driving while intoxicated? In these cases, your attorney may need to hire a professional, like an accident reconstruction expert, to help determine each driver who was responsible and their level of fault. The investigator could look to a number of sources to discover what happened:

  • Eyewitness statements—including all passengers, drivers, and others not involved in the accident—as to what occurred
  • Police reports that could include a determination of what caused the accident and that shows which drivers were issued a ticket
  • Vehicle damage and the location of the impact on each vehicle
  • Evidence at the scene of the accident, like skid marks or debris
  • Reviewing photographs of the crash scene

Don’t Go it Alone in Your Multi-Vehicle Crash

If you or a family member was injured in a multi-vehicle crash, this is NOT the time to try to settle your case on your own. Many injured victims will be trying to obtain compensation out of the same pots of money from the same insurance companies. You need an experienced car accident attorney to help you determine who bears responsibility and negotiate with multiple insurance adjusters to maximize your settlement. Call us at 888-733-2992 to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help.


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