Multi-vehicle crashes can be catastrophic events. When there are several cars involved in an accident, the damage to vehicles is extensive, and there is the potential for severe and often fatal injuries. With so many different drivers involved, multi-car accident cases tend to be far more complicated than a typical two vehicle collision, and it can be difficult to determine who might be at fault.
Every case is different, and there are always unique factors that need to be looked at in order to determine liability a multi-car accident. In some cases, there will be more than one driver at fault, and blame might also be assigned to outside parties who were not directly involved in the collision.
Liability for a Multi-Car Crash
With three or more vehicles involved in an accident, determining fault will come down to finding out who caused the crash to start. Here are a couple of scenarios to help illustrate how these cases will be looked at:
One of the more common types of multi-vehicle crashes is referred to as a “chain reaction” accident. This is a series of rear-end collisions that produce a domino effect in which the impact of each crash causes the car to crash into the vehicle in front of them. With a case like this, the first assumption is likely to be that the driver of the car that started the chain reaction is the one at fault. But others could share the blame as well, for example, if the driver that was rear-ended was texting on their phone at the time of the crash.
Another possible scenario is when a semi-truck jackknifes on the highway, blocking several lanes of traffic and causing a multi-car pileup. The first thought would be that the truck driver did something wrong – maybe he/she was speeding or driving faster than it was safe to under the current conditions. But upon further investigation, it might turn out that the truck jackknifed because it was unevenly loaded, or because a defective tire blew out – and in either case, this could be at least partially the fault of a third party.
Some of the factors that are examined in a multi-car crash include:
- Whether or not any of the drivers was speeding at the time the crash.
- Whether any of the drivers were tailgating or following the vehicle in front of them too closely.
- Whether any of the vehicles had brake lights or taillights that were not functioning.
- Whether any of the drivers were texting or engaged in any other type of distracted driving at the time the crash.
- Whether any of the drivers were intoxicated when the crash occurred.
- Whether there was proper road signage to indicate a sudden traffic slow down or stop.
- Whether there was any debris or objects that may have helped trigger the crash.
Comparative Fault in South Carolina Multi-Vehicle Accidents
If more than one party is at fault for a multi-car crash in South Carolina, an injured party could still recover compensation as long as they are found to be no more than 50% liable for the accident. If they are partially responsible, however, their compensatory damages would be reduced in proportion to the percentage of fault they share. For example, if your total losses equaled $150,000 and you are found to be 30% at fault, your damage award would be reduced by $45,000.
Another issue that often comes up in multi-vehicle accidents is the potential for the combined losses of all the injured individuals to exceed vehicle insurance policy limits. If there are other parties that could be held liable – such as a truck driver’s employer or a defective product maker – this could provide other ways to recover full compensation, but these avenues are not available in all cases.
Whatever the unique circumstances of your case, it is extremely important to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible after the accident. Memories fade over time, and critical evidence has a tendency to disappear. The sooner you retain strong legal counsel, the better your chances of recovering full and fair compensation for your injuries.
Injured in a Multi-Car Crash in South Carolina? Contact Peake and Fowler for Legal Help
If you or a loved got hurt in a vehicle accident in South Carolina, Peake and Fowler is ready to go to work for you. For a free consultation and case assessment with one of our attorneys, call our office today at 803-788-4370 or send us an online message.