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How to Determine Fault in a Chain Reaction Auto Accident?

Car Accident Involving Multiple VehiclesA chain reaction accident is just as it sounds. Often referred to as a “pileup” collision, this type of accident involves three or more vehicles. Whenever there are more than two vehicles involved in a crash, the question of liability becomes much more complex. The actions of every driver need to be reviewed to determine fault and it is possible that everyone shares a certain degree of responsibility. The Chicago auto accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers have extensive experience in determining fault in these types of situations.

Examples 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 another. In many of these cases, the first car is forced into another that is stopped or slowing down, but it is possible for other scenarios to unfold. The following examples are common types of chain reaction accidents.

  • Two or more cars are stopped at an intersection when a vehicle strikes the last car in line. The impact may move the car in front of the first into the next one, creating a domino effect. The number of cars involved depends on the speed and impact force of the first vehicle.

  • Another chain reaction event can involve what may seem like multiple separate accidents. For example, the first driver is forced to slam on his brakes when the car in front of him comes to a sudden halt. He hits the vehicle in front of him while forcing the car behind him to try and stop or evade an accident. If that driver fails to stop or avoid the accident, the next driver in line could also become involved.

  • A fender bender at an intersection forces another vehicle into oncoming traffic. These accidents can be serious if the lead car is put in position to be hit head on or t-boned. There may be a chain of events that unfold from here as vehicles are pushed in unpredictable directions.

How to Determine Fault in a Chain Reaction Crash

It is generally assumed that the person who caused the first accident in these cases should bear all of the responsibility. It isn’t so simple, unfortunately. There are factors that can identify multiple people as sharing liability for a pileup accident. Here are some of those factors.

  • One of the drivers was tailgating another. If following too closely influenced the outcome of the accident, the tailgater could share responsibility with the driver responsible for the first 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.

  • One or more of the drivers broke traffic laws. Speeding, improper lane usage, failure to obey traffic signs and reckless driving may all contribute to a pileup accident.

  • One or more driver was distracted. An overwhelming majority of car accidents are being linked to distracted driving. The use of cellphones, tablets and other technology can take a driver’s attention away from the road. This may be the determining factor in whether the driver is able to avoid a collision.

  • The local government didn’t maintain roads, signs or traffic signals adequately. Some pileup accidents occur because of confusion when a 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 some accidents. When this happens, it is possible for every driver involved to be found free of liability. Medical conditions may also be the cause of an accident and it is unfair to place blame on someone who lost consciousness due to something such as 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 Yourself after a Chain Reaction Accident

The legal complexity of chain reaction accidents makes it important that you follow the guidance of a qualified and experienced Chicago car accident attorney. You should never admit fault for any accident because a good lawyer may be able to find evidence that supports your actions and proves another party’s fault.

Our car accident law team includes experts in accident reconstruction who are able to recreate the scene of an accident and find out exactly what happened. The things that 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 made about your accident. Make sure you pay attention to whether other parties were issued citations for traffic violations.

  • Take as many pictures of the accident scene that you can. Photographic evidence can help an accident reconstruction specialist recreate the scene by looking at the placement of skid marks, debris and the dents on other vehicles.

Do not turn down any medical treatment. This can be used to dispute your claim later, even if symptoms develop later on.

Choosing an attorney to represent you will be one of the most important actions you can take after a chain reaction accident. Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers would like to invite you to schedule a free case review. Our award-winning lawyers can help you determine the most appropriate way forward. Unless we are able to secure compensation for you, our services will be completely free of charge.

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