Who Is at Fault in a Multi-Vehicle Collision?

Car crash accident

A multi-car accident can result in serious physical injury and vehicle damage. When you file a claim to recover compensation, it can also become confusing and stressful. Several drivers and multiple insurers might be involved, leading to competing investigations. You can get help to navigate the process. Marasco & Nesselbush can be your trusted legal partners after a multi-car accident or chain-reaction collision in Rhode Island.

A car accident can result in shock and emotional trauma in addition to physical injury. When it’s a multi-car accident, this stress can be especially severe. Determining who is at fault and whose insurance policy will cover your medical care and other expenses can be complex.

You don’t have to navigate the claims process alone. In the aftermath of the incident, it should be your job to recover physically, mentally, and emotionally. You can get help to work through the legal process from an experienced car accident lawyer from Marasco & Nesselbush.

What Is a Multi-Car Accident?

A multi-car accident involves three or more vehicles. In an instant, one car crashes into another, leading to a multiple-car pileup. Because the initial impact causes additional resulting impacts in a quick sequence of events, it is often called a chain-reaction car accident.

Why Are Multi-Car Accidents So Serious?

Many types of collisions can result in a multi-car accident. On roads with heavy traffic and in crowded pedestrian areas, these accidents can cause serious damage to vehicles. They can also result in catastrophic injury or death.

According to U.S. Department of Transportation data, 43 percent of deaths in fatal Rhode Island crashes in 2021 occurred in multiple-vehicle accidents.

Some scenarios that lead to multiple-vehicle collisions are similar to those of single-vehicle crashes. However, as more cars become involved, the potential for injury and damage rises significantly.

Rear-end collisions occur when one driver hits another from behind. The front driver might have stopped suddenly, or the rear driver might have lurched forward. On roads with little space between vehicles, sudden stops can cause a chain reaction of impact as rear vehicles collide with the car in front of them.

Multiple car pile-ups happen when cars slip or slide into each other. A driver might have lost control of their vehicle, or icy roads made driving conditions treacherous. As cars spin out of lanes, they hit other vehicles, which all might incur serious damage.

Head-on collisions happen when the front of one car hits the front of another. A driver might have taken a U-turn into oncoming traffic. The driver might collide with other vehicles if the other car stops or swerves to avoid the crash.

Side-impact collisions occur when a car hits another vehicle from the side, hitting the door on the passenger or driver’s side. The impact can cause the second vehicle to abruptly spin, change direction, or move out of its lane, hitting the third and subsequent vehicles in the process.

Jackknife truck accidents occur when a transport truck with a cab and a trailer folds at a 90-degree angle. The two parts come together in a way that resembles closing a jackknife. Because of the size and weight of these vehicles, the cab or the trailer can hit multiple vehicles at once or start a chain reaction collision.

Drivers and passengers involved in multi-car accidents often experience shock and confusion at the time of the event, in addition to their physical injuries. Prompt medical treatment is crucial to recovery. Try to accept medical care on-site if it is available and visit an emergency room, clinic, or family doctor as soon as possible.

What Causes Multi-Car Accidents in Rhode Island?

Some factors can increase the likelihood of a multi-vehicle accident. Recognizing them can help determine what caused a collision and who might be at fault.

Poor weather conditions can make roads icy and reduce visibility. Snow, ice, and sleet make the roads harder to navigate during Rhode Island winters. They can make it harder to stop, start, or turn quickly. With multiple drivers facing these same challenges, it can quickly lead to a dangerous pileup.

Reckless driving is always a hazard, no matter the time of year in Rhode Island. Drivers should always take due care and attention while on the road, but that’s particularly important on freeways and where multi-car collisions are possible. Responsible drivers should practice safe driving by slowing down, maintaining a sufficient distance between cars, and watching the road. When they fail to do this, there might be an accident.

A person who fails to follow the rules of the road in Rhode Island by speeding, swerving, and otherwise practicing unsafe and reckless driving can become involved in a multiple-vehicle collision.

Distracted Driving is driving while doing any activity that takes a motorist’s attention away from the road. Common examples include cellphone use, texting, and eating while driving. Sending or reading just one text can take your attention off the road for the length of a football field if you’re driving 55 miles per hour.

Driving under the influence is another serious hazard. Anyone caught drinking and driving can receive a DUI charge and face serious legal consequences. If a bar or restaurant overserved the drunk driver, a car accident victim can sue the establishment for their injuries under Rhode Island liquor liability laws. Unfortunately, drunk driving can be the catalyst of a multi-car pileup that affects many people’s lives.

According to U.S. Department of Transportation data, in Rhode Island in 2021, 38 percent of drivers who died in vehicle accidents had a blood-alcohol content greater than 0.08. The actual figure might be higher, as the blood-alcohol content was known in only 78 percent of driver fatalities.

Who Is at Fault in a Multi-Car Accident?

After the accident, the police, insurance companies, and your car accident attorney might all conduct an investigation. The objective is to determine who was at fault for the multi-vehicle accident.

Investigators often find several parties hold some responsibility for the accident and the resulting damage and injuries. Fault is usually divided up by percentages. You might carry some responsibility even if you have experienced serious injury.

Rhode Island is a pure comparative fault state. That means you can still recover compensation even if an investigator says you hold some responsibility. Typically, your compensation will be reduced by your share of the fault. For example, if your damages were $100,000 and you were 25 percent at fault, you’ll be able to recover 75 percent of the monetary damages you suffered—$75,000.

Your car accident lawyer can help you navigate Rhode Island laws and advocate for your legal rights to help you get the maximum compensation.

How Does Insurance Work in a Multi-Car Accident?

After a multi-vehicle collision, you should report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. File a claim, but do not consent to a recorded statement.

In Rhode Island, most insurance policies have three components or heads of coverage: liability for bodily injury, liability for property damage, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Your car insurance pays compensation to those whose damage you are responsible for. Therefore, in a multi-vehicle accident, the insurance policies of the at-fault drivers pay for the damages and injuries of others involved.

As investigations proceed, you might have to deal with multiple insurance companies. Speaking with a Rhode Island attorney who understands the complexity of multi-car accidents can help you successfully navigate this process.

Representation for Multi-Car Accidents in Rhode Island

Multi-car collisions can lead to serious injury and vehicle damage. In the hours and days following the accident, it can help to have a legal partner to help you understand your options and guide you through the process.

At Marasco & Nesselbush, our attorneys have the experience and dedication to see your case through to a fair conclusion. To learn more about how we can help you navigate the aftermath of a multi-vehicle collision, please fill out our case evaluation form or call us today at (401) 443-2999 for a free consultation.

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