Dealing with Legal Issues after a Multi-Vehicle Accident

Published by Marshall & Gibson Lawyers on the 06 June 2013

When two vehicles are involved in an accident, it is usually fairly easy to determine who is at fault. But when multiple vehicles are involved, apportioning blame becomes more complicated.

Rear end collisions

As a rule, the person at the front of a rear-end chain-reaction collision is not considered to be at fault. There is no law against braking sharply and the law considers the car behind to be at fault, because they were obviously following too closely and ran into them. But if a car runs into that car as a result and then another car runs into that car and so on, then the fault is transferred along the chain, with each car being at fault for colliding with the car in front of them.

Alternatively, if a line of cars is parked at traffic lights and a car runs into the last car, which then runs into the car in front and so on right up the chain, then the last car is at fault for all of the collisions in the line.

However, not all multi car collisions are as clear-cut as this. If multiple vehicles coming from different directions collide in an intersection for example, sorting out who is at fault can be very difficult and time-consuming.

Negligence

If injuries occur as a result of a multi-car collision and lawsuits result, then it becomes necessary to prove negligence in order to successfully sue other drivers.

To prove negligence, you must prove four basic elements:

  • That a duty of care was owed to you by the other driver
  • That the other driver breached that duty of care
  • That there was a causal connection between their actions and your injuries
  • That you suffered harm as a result of those actions.

There are usually two kinds of negligence involved:

  • Contributory negligence – where if you are found to have contributed to the accident in any way (such as if you were speeding) then you cannot claim damages against another driver.
  • Comparative negligence – where the amount of damages you can claim is reduced according to the degree that you are considered to have contributed to the accident.

What to do after a multi car collision

If you are involved in a multi car collision, the first thing you should do is make sure everyone is safe and attend to those who may be injured. Secondary accidents often occur after a collision, particularly in poor weather and bad driving conditions, so it’s important to get off the road and make sure following traffic is aware there has been a collision.

Then you should talk to all the other drivers involved and exchange contact and insurance details. If the police are in attendance, they will also wish to interview everyone involved. If you have a camera in your phone, take pictures of the accident scene and damage to all vehicles.

As soon as you are able to, contact your insurance company and inform them of the situation. They will advise you regarding where your vehicle should be taken for repairs. If you or someone with you has been injured, you should also advise the insurance company of this and you should contact an injury lawyer as soon as you can to discuss your legal position.