Who Is at Fault in a Car Pileup?
Being in a pileup car accident might feel like a scene from a movie, when a regular day quickly becomes a tangle of chaos, and numerous strangers suddenly find themselves together in a traumatic situation.
Whether car accidents involve five, 20, or 190 vehicles, no victim or witness will see everything that happened or know the exact order of events. Working with a car accident lawyer who connects with crash reconstructionists and medical experts and preserves crash data is the surest way of determining who is truly at fault.
Below, we’ll delve into the complexities of determining fault and compensation as you deal with insurance claims after a multi-car pileup in Texas.
Determining Who Is at Fault in a Car Pileup
All drivers have a duty of care toward others using the roads, which means they are responsible for driving carefully and reasonably. Failing to practice safe driving habits may be considered a willful or negligent act, making at-fault drivers obligated to compensate those they injure.
Our client Chris D. experienced this firsthand when a semi-truck rear-ended his vehicle and pushed it into the car in front of him. Chris, his son, and a friend were all injured, and Chris called us for help. We were able to secure a significant settlement, but Chris will live with certain physical changes for the rest of his life.
Texas is one of many states that follow what is known as a modified comparative negligence rule, which means drivers who are 50% at fault or less in an accident can collect damages. This is different than the contributory negligence rule, which states that if a plaintiff contributed to the accident at all, they are not necessarily entitled to damages.
In a Texas car pileup, determining fault can be very complex because multiple drivers and collisions are involved. For example, one driver may have been following too closely and crashed into another, but only because another driver rear-ended them and pushed their vehicle forward. Without that initial rear-end collision, the closely-following first car never would have hit the second.
So, who is responsible? And to what degree?
The police report will include known facts about the auto accident as well as the investigating officer’s opinions on who is at fault. Often, the report will designate the motorist (or motorists) at fault. However, a personal injury lawyer has the resources to further investigate property damage, skid marks, and other evidence that can reveal who truly is the at-fault party or parties.
Compensation for Being Injured in a Multi-Vehicle Accident
Because multiple-vehicle accidents are so complicated, it’s impossible to give blanket advice about who is at fault in a pileup crash and whether you may be eligible for compensation. Instead, the answers to these questions will depend on the unique facts and circumstances of your case and how much pushback you get from the insurance companies.
In accidents involving only two or three cars, drivers are more likely to know what happened and whom to file a claim against. However, the entire process becomes more challenging when multiple parties might be at fault and multiple insurance companies want to minimize their obligations. Most people don’t know where to start to get the compensation they need and deserve.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a pile-up accident, the best thing you can do is speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can listen to the details of your story and give you their informed opinion about your best course of action.
The Cause of a Multi-Car Accident Matters
Many factors come into play in a pileup. These crashes often occur at high speeds or in bad weather when one collision sets off a chain reaction accident. Intersections and freeways are common sites, with a pileup beginning when a vehicle hits a stopped car in traffic or sideswipes another vehicle in an intersection.
The cause of the pileup is important in presenting your case and demanding fair compensation. The more information you and your attorney have on the cause, the better.
For example, if you can show that you only rear ended another vehicle because you were pushed into it by a car that lost control on the ice, that will help your case.
Research into the various causes of large pileups is limited, though they’re often initially caused by things that cause any accident, such as distracted driving, speeding, and driving after drinking.
The injuries unique to pileups often occur in the confusing aftermath of several damaged cars suddenly stopped and too close together, as we’ll discuss next.
The Unique Dangers of Pile-Up Crashes
Regardless of the cause, pileups expose drivers to a higher risk of injury and even death. Your injuries may be related to these unique pileup hazards, furthering your right to compensation. Be sure to discuss the following with your attorney:
- Fires — Pileups generally cause more vehicle damage compared to a typical crash, which in turn increases the risk of a fire. In addition, pileup crashes tend to leave multiple vehicles jammed close together, which can lead to passengers being trapped inside their cars — a potentially deadly problem in the event of a fire.
- Drivers and passengers exiting their vehicles — During a pileup, people tend to get out of their vehicles, either because they are in shock or because they want to survey the scene. Unfortunately, a crash further back in a pileup can affect vehicles all the way in the front; meanwhile, many unaffected vehicles will try to quickly maneuver around the crash site. All of this leaves people outside of their vehicles at a much higher risk of being struck.
Crosley Law Firm: Advocates for Pileup Crash Victims
No matter how carefully you drive, you can’t guarantee that others will do the same. Though safe driving practices like always wearing a seat belt can reduce your risk of injury or death, there is no way to eliminate your risk of becoming injured due to another driver’s carelessness.
If you have suffered because of a pileup car crash or other collision caused by someone else’s negligent behavior, Crosley Law Firm is here to help. You can get in touch with us by filling out our convenient online form or by calling us at 210-LAW-3000 (210-529-3000).
We offer free consultations where we can discuss your unique situation and offer candid legal advice. If we can take on your case, you won’t have to pay a thing unless we achieve a settlement or win your case in court.
Don’t wait — contact us today!
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014, December). Sobering Facts: Drunk Driving in Texas. CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pdf/impaired_driving/drunk_driving_in_tx.pdf
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, March 2). Distracted Driving. CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/index.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, June 15). Impaired Driving. CDC. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/index.html
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.
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