A car accident is a serious event that can leave drivers and passengers with severe and fatal injuries. When an accident involves three or more vehicles, the consequences can be devastating. Knowing what to do and how to respond if you are involved in a multi-vehicle accident will help you in your claim for compensation to which you are entitled for your injuries.
Establishing Liability in a Multi-Vehicle Accident
When more than two vehicles are involved in an accident, there can be several factors that play into determining who is ultimately responsible for the wreck. Many times, one vehicle colliding with another will set off a chain reaction that leads to several vehicles crashing into each other. The first driver that caused the accident is not necessarily the one at fault for the drivers involved in the chain reaction.
For example, if driver A rear-ends driver B, driver A may not be the reason driver B rear-ends the car in front of them. If driver B was following driver C too closely, they may be held liable for injuries and damages suffered by driver C. The same can be said for a driver that hits cars A and B because they were speeding or failed to obey traffic signals or stop signs.
Determining who is ultimately responsible for the cause of a multi-vehicle accident is imperative to settling claims for injuries and damages. Insurance companies have legal teams that are prepared to fight multiple claims that can be extensive when injuries are severe. A competent and experienced car accident lawyer will ensure that an injured victim has the evidence necessary to prove liability.
What to Do in a Multi-Vehicle Accident
The shock and stress of being involved in a multi-vehicle accident can be tremendous but knowing what to do in this scenario will help protect your legal rights to compensation. As in all car accidents, the priority is to assess injuries and call for help. Even seemingly minor injuries can turn into serious and often disabling injuries if they are not properly treated at the scene of the accident.
Once injuries are assessed and victims are stable, it is important to allow law enforcement officers to speak to all those involved and file an official police report. The police will gather statements from all drivers, passengers, and witnesses, and will take detailed notes surrounding the accident scene. Pictures and measurements of skid marks on the roadway, weather conditions, and notes on whether there was debris or construction happening on the road can be vital to establishing liability.
Drivers and passengers should always refrain from admitting fault for the accident, even if they believe they caused the crash. Drivers may not be aware of extenuating factors that led to the accident, or how much liability they have in relation to the other drivers involved in the wreck. It is important to obtain the names, addresses, and contact information for witnesses at the scene, as well as the licensing and insurance information of all drivers.
Comparative and Contributory Negligence
Driver liability in multi-vehicle accidents is determined through comparative and contributory negligence. Under comparative negligence, a driver’s liability is determined by comparing their actions to those of the other drivers involved in the accident. Compensation for each driver depends upon the amount of liability assessed to them. The most important factor in comparative negligence is that a driver can still pursue some level of compensation for their injuries.
Under contributory negligence, a driver that is held liable for causing or contributing to the accident in any way cannot claim compensation for their injuries. Fortunately, South Carolina has abolished the doctrine of contributory negligence. The State of North Carolina, however, retains a modified form of that doctrine. To protect your rights and ability to pursue a claim, contact an experienced car accident lawyer who can explain all your legal options.
South Carolina Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell, Smith & Arden Represent Victims of Multi-Vehicle Accidents
If you or someone you know has been injured in a multi-vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the South Carolina car accident lawyers at Chappell, Smith & Arden at 803-929-3600, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our offices can be found at six different locations across South Carolina, allowing us to serve clients in Columbia, Aiken, Camden, Sumter, Orangeburg, Greenville, Florence, Beaufort, Irmo, Spartanburg, Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head Island, West Columbia, Rock Hill, Charleston, Lexington, Winnsboro, Summerville, and throughout the counties of Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Charleston County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Spartanburg County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County.