Who is liable for injuries in a chain-reaction car accident in Pennsylvania depends on who caused or contributed to the accident.
How Chain-Reaction Car Accidents Unfold
Let us consider an example of a chain-reaction collision:
- Drivers 1, 2 and 3 (a chain-reaction crash must involve at least three drivers but could theoretically have dozens) are driving down the road.
- Driver 1 stops at a red light.
- Driver 2 is not paying attention and rear-ends Driver 1.
- Driver 3 is following too closely and is unable to avoid crashing into Driver 2. The force of the impact pushes Driver 2’s more forcefully into Driver 1’s vehicle.
In a crash like this one, just knowing who hit whom does little to unpack who might have been at fault. For instance, we know that Driver 3 hit Driver 2, but was that because Driver 3 was following Driver 2 too closely and failed to stop in time after Driver 2 hit Driver 1? Or did Driver 2’s taillights burn out and make it impossible for Driver 3 to stop in time?
As you can see, a chain reaction scenario is much more complicated than a typical two-car crash.
Liability in a Chain Reaction Collision
Let us break down liability in the collision above. Chances are, unless Driver 1’s taillights were burnt out or there was another extenuating circumstance, they will not share any liability for the collision as they were stopping for a red light.
Driver 2 and Driver 3 will likely share liability for any injuries that occurred.
For example, Driver 2 might be 80 percent at fault for Driver 1’s injuries, while Driver 3 might be 20 percent liable. If Driver 1’s injuries totaled $20,000, Driver 2 would be liable for $16,000 and Driver 3 would be liable for $4,000, per Pennsylvania’s comparative fault law.
If either Driver 2 or Driver 3 suffered injuries, they would need to determine what collision their injuries stemmed from. For example, if Driver 2 suffered whiplash, a medical expert and an accident reconstruction expert might be necessary to establish which collision might have caused those injuries.
How to Establish the Way a Chain-Reaction Accident Unfolded
For the injured drivers in a chain-reaction collision to be able to hold the right people liable, the injured drivers’ lawyers must paint an accurate picture as to how the wreck unfolded. This is not always easy, as each driver, when questioned, is likely to describe a different version of events — one that paints them as the victim and not as the at-fault party.
Fortunately, there are several sources of evidence that can illuminate exactly what happened in a chain-reaction accident and who was responsible. These include:
- Statements from eyewitnesses (including each driver and passenger involved, but also bystanders and occupants of other vehicles in the vicinity);
- Police reports (including information about whether one or more drivers received a citation for violating a traffic law);
- Evidence from the vehicles themselves, including damage patterns;
- Photo and video surveillance;
- Other physical evidence from the scene, including skid marks and debris;
- Accident reconstruction (as stated in the section above).
What to Do if You Were Involved in a Chain-Reaction Collision in Pennsylvania
Since chain-reaction collisions involve many different drivers and often have multiple at-fault parties, assigning liability can be challenging. Each driver has a strong incentive to make the argument that another driver caused them to strike the car in front. For that reason, if you were involved in a chain-reaction collision, you should consider speaking with a car crash lawyer as soon as possible after the accident.
Your lawyer can review the evidence and identify the most likely responsible parties. From there, your lawyer will file a claim against those parties and gather evidence to prove liability. You could be eligible for substantial compensation, possibly from multiple drivers.
Recovering Compensation If You Contributed to the Collision
In many cases, those involved in a chain-reaction crash were not just bystanders. If you caused or contributed to the collision, you may still be able to recover compensation, so long as you were less than 51 percent at fault.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With a Car Accident Lawyer in Pennsylvania by Calling Cordisco & Saile LLC at 215-642-2335
At Cordisco & Saile LLC, our injury team helps Pennsylvania car accident victims hold the responsible parties liable and collect compensation. We have handled complex chain-reaction collisions and know how to approach your case to get the compensation you deserve. We offer a free initial case evaluation during which you can learn more about how our car accident lawyers can help you.
For your free consultation, call 215-642-2335 today.