Multi-vehicle collisions can be both traumatic and stressful due to the extensive damage and injury they have the potential to cause. Not to mention, trying to determine who should be held responsible for causing the accident, and how the damages or injuries you’ve suffered should be covered as a result can make things even more confusing. So we’re here to clear up your most pressing questions about multi-vehicle car accidents and what to expect if you’re involved in one.

Q: What constitutes a multi-vehicle car accident?

A: In its most basic form, a multi-vehicle accident is any car crash scenario that involves more than two vehicles. A multi-vehicle car accident can include any number and any type of vehicle, including passenger vehicles, semi-trucks and tractor-trailers, public transport vehicles, construction vehicles, and more.

So for example, if one car rear-ends another car and the car that was rear-ended crashes into the vehicle in front of it due to the force of the blow, that third vehicle would then be considered involved in the accident, and the scenario has now become a multi-car accident.

Q: What happens in a multi-vehicle car accident?

A: Multi-vehicle accidents can happen in the same ways that other types of vehicle accidents can happen. Negligent or reckless driving, distracted driving, a failure to comply with driving laws or posted rules and signs on the road, driving under the influence, challenging road conditions such as bad weather or construction, and even vehicle malfunction can all contribute to causing a multi-vehicle accident. And though not always the case, it’s most often by way of a chain reaction that a multi-vehicle accident takes place.

Often, it’s the latent force or movement of the initial part of the accident that subsequently gets other vehicles involved. In another example, say a semi-truck blows one of its tires while driving down the freeway. This may make the truck maneuver erratically, causing it to jackknife across multiple lanes of the highway and into other vehicles. In turn, the cars driving down the freeway behind those vehicles may not be able to brake in time and crash into them. Though the initial cause of the accident only involved a single semi-truck, the accident has now become a multi-vehicle accident as more and more cars become involved in the crash.

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Q: Who is responsible for causing a multi-vehicle car accident?

A: Missouri is an “at-fault” state. This means that generally, whoever is found to have caused the initial crash that led to multiple cars being involved is most likely to be held responsible for the accident, and thus, their insurance company will cover the damages suffered by all involved.

It is possible that multiple vehicles or drivers can be found to have shared responsibility for causing the crash. Comparative fault is a term that refers to the amount of fault that can be attributed to each person involved in a crash. For some drivers, it may be none at all. For other drivers, it could be deemed to be 25%, 50%, 75%, or an entirely different percentage. It all depends on what an investigation into the crash reveals about why and how it happened.

By way of another example, say Car A runs through a red light at an intersection, and Car B swerves to avoid it. But as a result, Car B, unfortunately, swerves right into Car C, causing damage to both cars. Though Car C may immediately place all blame for the crash on Car B, an investigation may determine that Car A and Car B will each receive a comparative fault of 50% for the accident. As such, each of their respective insurance companies would pay for 50% of the total damage caused to all cars and their passengers.

Q: How is fault determined in a multi-vehicle car accident?

A: Fault is determined after a thorough investigation into the accident is conducted. Primarily, this investigation will be carried out by the insurance companies of the drivers involved in the accident, but for more serious accidents where a lot of damage or catastrophic injury occurred, a police investigation may be opened. The personal injury law firm hired by the drivers involved may also decide to conduct their own additional investigations if they feel the need.

In any case, there are several important elements that help these parties determine who is at fault for the multi-vehicle car crash. Police reports, witness statements, video recordings, and accident recreation may all be used to help determine exactly how the accident occurred, and thus which drivers should be held responsible for covering the resulting damages.

Q: Who pays for the damages in a multi-vehicle car accident?

A: After the investigation is finished and the fault is determined if it has been decided that you are to receive compensation of any kind for the damages you suffered in the accident, that compensation will come from the at-fault party or party’s auto insurance company. Similarly, if you are found at any level of comparative fault for the accident, compensation owed to other drivers will be provided by your own insurance company.

But before that can happen, these auto insurance companies will need to determine how much damage you actually suffered so that they know how much to compensate you for. This is why it’s important to keep good medical records, and receipts for any damages that were already necessary to address and to be willing to work with the insurance company on providing the information they need. However, there’s a fine line to walk when it comes to working with insurance adjusters in this way, which is why it’s never a bad idea to hire a personal injury attorney to help you navigate the process.

Q: What kinds of damages can I recover in a multi-vehicle car accident?

A: In a successful multi-car collision claim, you may be able to recover compensation for damages such as:

  • Medical expenses related to injuries caused or exacerbated by the crash.
  • Property damages can often include much more than just the damage to your vehicle itself.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Loss of consortium or companionship of a family member should their life be taken as a result of the accident.
  • Lost wages as a result of being unable to work due to your injuries.
  • Lost future earning capacity if your injuries prevent you from doing work you were once able to do.

And if you feel the auto insurance company compensating you for your damages is not offering an adequate amount, a car accident lawyer or personal injury lawyer may be able to help you receive the compensation you’re fully entitled to.

Have questions? The legal team at Finney Injury Law is here to provide you with the answers you need. Give us a call at 314-293-4222.