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Determining Fault in a Multi-Car Accident

Posted on 04/03/23 by admin in Auto Accidents

Car accidents are, by their nature, chaotic. The size and momentum of vehicles involved and the unpredictable behavior of the humans behind the wheel represent a small share of a functionally infinite set of variable circumstances that differentiate all car accidents. The number of variables can jump up exponentially in a multi-car accident. A multi-car accident is when three or more vehicles are involved in a collision or other accident. It’s far from uncommon for car accidents to quickly grow from one car to two to three or more. These events can disorient and bewilder those involved. With multiple perspectives, the question of determining fault becomes even thornier than usual. Malloy Law wants to inform you of your rights and responsibilities in the event of a multi-car accident.

multi-car accident

Causes of Multi-Car Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration observed a 16% increase in fatal multi-car accidents in 2021. While these accidents are unique and present their own unique causes and circumstances, many originate from a few common causes. These include:

  • Poor Weather Conditions
  • Alcohol and Other Psychoactive Drugs
  • Reckless or Dangerous Driving

The Law, Insurance, and Fault

Multi-car accidents can be especially hazardous in regions like our own. The DMV is famous for  highway systems that require constant maintenance and allow cars to travel at high speeds. At high speeds these wrecks can develop quickly and collect multiple cars before their drivers have sufficient time to react. Take, for instance, a recent case in Virginia where a multi-vehicle pileup backed up I-95 for miles. But once the dust has settled, how do we determine who, if anyone, is at fault?

This process begins at the scene of the accident itself. Police officers responding to the scene of an accident will interview drivers and passengers involved in the crash as well as any other witnesses. In generating an incident report for the accident, police may also make use of any video recorded by car dash cams, cellphones, or traffic cameras.

multi-vehicle pileup due to inclement weather

Through an accumulation of evidence, police are able to assemble a timeline of events leading up to the crash and deduce its cause or causes. If a driver is deemed at fault for the accident, they may face criminal charges such a reckless driving. The insurance companies of involved drivers will also conduct their own investigations into the incident, with the at-fault driver’s policy paying out on their behalf.

Car Accidents and Contributory Negligence

Residents of Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia should be aware that any legal case they may hope to pursue after a car accident will have to contend with their states’ contributory negligence statutes. These laws differ from more common comparative negligence laws, which may reduce the damages a plaintiff may recover if they were deemed partially at fault for their accident.

Contributory negligence laws, by contrast, may bar an injured party from recovery entirely if they are found even 1% at fault for their accident.

Navigating the Aftermath of a Multi-Car Accident

If you are involved in a car accident of any kind; your health should be the highest priority. Even if you feel only minor aches, pains, or disorientation, we strongly advise you to seek medical attention. The quicker your injuries are professionally identified and treated, the sooner you’ll recover.

Once you’ve sought medical attention; the best advice we can provide is to document the scene. Take pictures of your own vehicle as well as any others involved and share these pictures with the police and your insurance company as requested. Exchange information with any and all other drivers involved, and be prepared for their insurance company to reach out to you with questions as yours will likely reach out to them.

multi-car rear-end accident

How Malloy Law Can Help

In the aftermath of a multi-car accident, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed. You may face medical bills, auto repair bills, and heightened insurance premiums. You may feel the desire to seek fair compensation for these expenses as well as your own personal distress. Don’t pursue justice alone. The attorneys at Malloy Law Offices are the Beltway’s multi-car accident specialists. Our firm prides itself on a culture of empathy for the injured and will work on contingency to ensure your ability to access world-class representation without impacting your personal finances. Don’t face the fallout of your multi-car accident alone, contact Malloy Law today to start seeking justice.