In a Car Accident, Who Is At Fault for a Car Pileup? Multi-car Accident?

A multi-car accident (car pileup accident) is one in which three or more vehicles are involved. This is often the result of a chain reaction event where one car collides into the vehicle in front of them, causing one or more of the trailing vehicles to crash into the cars in front of them. A multi-vehicle accident could involve several passenger cars, or there could be commercial trucks and motorcycles involved as well. However, clarity on who is at fault for a car pile up, is a common concern.

This type of event often happens when traffic is moving at a fairly high speed and the drivers do not have enough time to slow down and avoid colliding into the car in front of them. There are other things that can trigger a multi-car event as well, such as a tractor-trailer that jackknifes and blocks several lanes of traffic, leaving nowhere for the approaching vehicles to go.

Determining Liability for a Multi-Vehicle Collision

By their very nature, multi-car accidents are complicated events. This makes determining the individual at fault for a car pile up a challenge. There are at least three drivers that are directly involved, and there are also numerous parties other than the drivers who could play a role in the accident.

For example, if there is an 18-wheeler involved, then fault may lie not only with the driver, but potentially with a driver?s employer, the cargo/shipping company that might have overloaded or unevenly loaded the truck, or the party that was supposed to perform maintenance on the truck. A government entity could be involved if the accident resulted from poorly maintained roads, or perhaps a highway construction zone in which drivers were not properly warned to slow down.

Faulty vehicles or vehicle parts could also play a role in a multi-vehicle accident. For example, maybe the lead vehicle had a set of newly installed tires and one of them blew out and caused a chain reaction accident, or maybe the car had a set of newly installed brake pads that failed to stop the vehicle when reacting to a car slowing down in front of them.

Every case is unique, and with so many potential factors at play, an extensive investigation is required in order to get to the bottom of exactly what happened and determine who was to blame. Among the things that may be looked at include:

  • The police report from the accident.
  • Photos from the accident scene showing skid marks, vehicle damage, vehicle debris, and other relevant evidence.
  • The testimony of any individuals that witnessed the event.
  • Any video footage that may be available from dashboard cameras or nearby traffic lights.
  • Phone records that may show that one or more of the drivers was texting at the time of the crash.
  • Records of any other traffic violations (such as speeding, tailgating, or being legally intoxicated) committed by any of the drivers.

If it is a chain reaction multi-car crash, the first car to rear end the car in front of them is often viewed as the one at fault. This is because this driver is usually seen as the one who was most able to avoid the collision. It is not always that simple, however, especially these days with so many people on their cell phones.

For example, the crash could have occurred because the lead driver was completely stopped at a green light (while completely focused on their phone) and did not realize that the light had turned green. The driver that rear-ended them may have assumed that all the vehicles in front of them were moving because the light was green. In a case like this, who is at fault for a car pile up? Well, partial fault may be assigned to multiple parties for their contributions to the crash.

Comparative Fault in Multi-Vehicle Accident Cases

Even if a driver is partially at fault for a multi-car crash, they may still be able to recover damages if the state in which the accident occurs applies some type of comparative negligence standard. Georgia uses a modified form of comparative negligence which allows an injured party to recover compensation as long as they are less than 50% responsible for the underlying accident. However, their damage award is reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault they share. For example, if you sustained $100,000 in losses and you are found to be 30% at fault for the accident, your damages would be reduced by $30,000 down to a total of $70,000.

Another thing you have to think about with these types of cases is the fact that there could be several injured parties and their combined losses could exceed insurance policy limits. This is one of many reasons it is important to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible, so your right to recover maximum compensation can be protected.


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If you or someone close to you got hurt in a multi-vehicle accident in Georgia, Attorney Ross Moore is here to help! Worried if your at fault for a car pile up, you can simply call for a skilled Atlanta lawyer at Ross Moore Law today. Our Atlanta personal injury law firm offers a track record of successfully managing car accident, truck accident, boating accident, motorcycle accident, wrongful death, catastrophic injury and other personal injury claims throughout Fulton County & the greater state of Georgia.

So, you can reach Ross Moore Law at (404) 905-3146 or message us online for your initial free consultation today!

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