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Determining Fault in a Multi-Vehicle Car Accident

Identifying the responsible party in a two-vehicle collision can be challenging enough, so imagine when three, four, five or more are involved in a chain reaction.

Approximately one-third of all car accidents are these multi-vehicle pileups, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

These accidents can be more deadly, result in greater injury and pose more challenges for emergency crews to respond because of the number of vehicles involved.

What Causes a Multi-Vehicle Accident?

Many factors can set off a chain reaction in which one car rear-ends another, which pushes that vehicle into the one in front of it and so on. The good news is that most of these factors are preventable; others may require drivers to proceed with even greater caution and awareness.

Weather: Inclement weather poses a hazard to even the most safety-minded of drivers. Roads slick from rain, flooded sections of highway and even fog that limits visibility can turn treacherous, particularly if drivers don’t adjust their speed or take extra caution in these conditions.

Speeding: When drivers exceed the speed limit, they may increase the chances of contributing to a multi-vehicle crash. Cutting over quickly in front of other vehicles and following others too closely at high speeds could easily result in their car being involved in a rear-end collision that sets off a chain reaction.

Driver Distractions: With the increased use of cell phones, distracted driving has become one of the leading causes of multi-vehicle accidents. Drivers who text, talk, check email or program GPS directions as they operate a vehicle put themselves and other drivers at risk for a crash. Other common distractions include loud music in the car, applying makeup or simple inattention.

 Fatigued Driving: Drivers who are struggling to stay awake because they have been traveling for long hours or because of a lack of a good night’s rest can pose a potential danger. It doesn’t take much time for a driver who dozes off to drift into another lane, unknowingly press the gas pedal or veer off the road and cause an accident.

 Intoxicated Drivers: Drivers under the influence of alcohol or even legal and illegal drugs can suffer from impaired judgement that can contribute to multi-vehicle accidents. Everything from drowsiness to delayed reaction can contribute to a crash that could potentially involve multiple vehicles.

Who Is At Fault?

Because multiple-vehicle accidents can lead to big insurance payouts, they are investigated by highly trained professionals to help sort through the complex process of assigning responsibility to a driver or drivers.

While it is possible for investigators to determine that mitigating factors, such as weather, were the cause and no driver is at fault, multi-car accidents are most often caused by negligent drivers.

In the State of Mississippi, which follows the comparative negligence rule, fault can be distributed among some or all involved parties. In this instance, drivers can be awarded damages based on their percentage of fault.

What to Do If You’re in a Multi-Vehicle Accident

 If you are involved in a multi-vehicle accident, call police right away. Move your vehicle out of the roadway if possible to prevent the potential of additional damage from other drivers who may not be paying attention as they approach the scene, for example. Take pictures of the scene, including the vehicles, road conditions, etc. Getting the police involved to file the report is in your best interest, and it will be a valuable tool in gathering information about other drivers, their insurance agencies and even witnesses to the crash.

When to Call Boyce Holleman & Associates

 Multi-vehicle crashes can involve multiple parties, and insurance carriers can make these situations complicated when determining who is at fault when these accidents happen. For nearly 70 years, Boyce Holleman & Associates have been representing accident victims in Gulfport and other areas of south Mississippi. To ensure that you are being sufficiently compensated for your injuries and damages, contact the dedicated personal injury attorneys at Boyce Holleman & Associates at 228-863-3142 today.


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