The actions of all drivers involved are examined to determine all the factors that contributed to or aggravated the accident, including speed, tailgating, use of signals and observance of traffic signs, and even road conditions at the time of the accident.
Also commonly referred to as a pileup, a chain-reaction accident is a crash that involves three or more vehicles. Whenever there are more than two vehicles involved in a crash, the question of liability becomes much more complicated. The actions of every driver need to be reviewed to determine fault, and it is possible that everyone could share a certain degree of responsibility. The Chicago auto accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC have extensive experience investigating fault in these types of situations.
There are Different Types of Chain Reaction Accidents
Most chain reaction accidents begin with a single collision. The first car collides with another, which may careen out of control and strike or be struck by a third vehicle. In many cases, the first vehicle hits a second that has suddenly stopped or slowed down, but other scenarios are also possible.
The following are examples of common types of chain reaction accidents:
- Two or more cars are stopped at an intersection when a vehicle strikes the rear of the last car in line. The impact may push that car into the back of the one in front of it, creating a domino effect. The number of cars involved depends on the speed and impact force of the first vehicle.
- A driver is forced to slam on his brakes when the car in front of him comes to a sudden halt. He hits the back of the vehicle in front of him while forcing the car behind him to have to brake to try to avoid hitting him. If that driver fails to stop in time, the next driver in line could become involved, and so on.
- A rear-end collision between two cars stopping for a red light forces the first vehicle in line into oncoming traffic. These accidents can be catastrophic if the lead car is put in a position to be hit head-on on or t-boned. There may be a chain of events that unfold from there as vehicles are pushed in unpredictable directions.
How to Determine Fault in a Chain Reaction Crash
It is generally assumed that the driver who caused the first collision in these cases should bear all the responsibility. Unfortunately, it isn’t always that simple. There are situations in which multiple persons can be identified as sharing liability for a pileup accident. Here are some of those circumstances:
- One of the drivers was tailgating another. If following another vehicle too closely contributed to the pileup, the tailgater could share responsibility even if he or she was not the initial cause of the accident.
- One or more drivers didn’t signal properly. Turn signals and brake lights inform and alert drivers to the actions of others on the road. If one of the drivers didn’t use a turn signal or his or her brake lights were not working, this is also considered when factoring liability.
- One or more of the drivers broke traffic laws. Speeding, improper lane changes, failure to obey traffic signs, and reckless driving may all contribute to a pileup accident.
- One or more drivers was distracted. An overwhelming majority of car accidents are linked to distracted driving. The use of cellphones, tablets and other technology can take a driver’s attention away from the road and prevent them from being able to avoid a collision.
- The local government didn’t properly maintain roads, signs or traffic signals. Some pileup accidents happen as a result of confusion when a traffic sign is missing, a light is not working, or the roads themselves are in disrepair.
Weather and acts of God may be the cause of a pileup, especially on highways. There could be a sudden heavy fog, rainstorm or snowstorm, or smoke from nearby forest fires. When this happens, it is possible for every driver involved to be cleared of liability.
Finally, unforeseen medical emergencies can also cause an accident, and it is unfair to place blame on someone who lost consciousness because of a stroke, seizure or heart attack. In these special cases, nobody is found at fault, and the matter is settled through each person’s insurance company.
How to Protect Your Rights After a Chain Reaction Accident
The legal complexity of chain-reaction accidents makes it crucial to seek the guidance of a qualified and experienced Chicago car accident attorney. You should never admit fault for any accident, because a good lawyer might be able to find evidence that justifies your actions and proves another party’s fault.
Our car accident injury law firm works with experts in accident reconstruction who are able to recreate the scene of an accident and determine exactly what happened. The things you can do to help in our investigation include the following:
- Obtain contact information from witnesses at the scene if you can. Their recollection of events will be useful later on.
- Get copies of all police reports concerning the accident. Make sure you pay attention to whether other parties were issued citations for traffic violations.
- If possible, take as many pictures of the accident scene as you can. Photographic evidence can help an accident reconstruction specialist recreate the chain of events by looking at the placement of skid marks, debris, and the dents on other vehicles.
- Do not refuse any medical treatment. If you do, it could be used to dispute your claims later, even if your physical symptoms develop later on.
Choosing a qualified attorney to represent you will be one of the most important actions you can take after a chain-reaction crash. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers invites you to schedule a free case review with our firm. Our award-winning accident lawyers can help you determine the best course of action. If we are unable to secure compensation for you, our services will be completely free of charge.