When a multi-vehicle accident occurs, victims have the right to pursue legal action and compensation for their catastrophic injuries and property damage. However, determining fault in a multi-car accident can be complex. A car accident lawyer can guide a victim throughout the entire legal process.
It may be clear from the scene which driver caused the multi-car accident. This is often when there are few cars involved and the chain of events is obvious. In this case, the authorities will cite the liable parties on the scene. The first driver who caused the initial accident before it became a multi-vehicle collision is almost always cited. Depending on the circumstances, drivers who get involved in the original accident may also be charged. They may have been speeding, flowing too closely, or did not take action to avoid the collision.
Police often open a full investigation into a multi-car accident case when the chain of events and negligent parties are not transparent. A lawyer will also do the same when representing a client and may need to bring in professionals and experts to support their case.
It is important to note that Virginia applies a contributory negligence standard when determining fault in car accidents. This means that even if a person was minimally negligent for their injuries in an accident, they cannot recover damages. Only a few other states have this standard. It is worth hiring lawyer to help in any type of car accident.
How Do Multi-Vehicle Accidents Happen?
A multi-car accident involves three or more vehicles and drivers. These accidents can happen in a variety of ways, including:
Rear-End Collisions: A rear-end accident typically happens when a car is stopped or slows down and is struck behind by another vehicle. The force of the collision will often push that vehicle into the back of the car in front of them, or other cars will crash into the rear of the vehicle that caused the initial collision. The result is often multiple damaged vehicles with injured occupants.
Highway Accidents: Drivers going 65 miles per hour or more may not be able to react quickly to changing road or traffic conditions. The result can be a collision involving many cars even though the accident may have started with just two vehicles. Add trucks and other vehicles into the mix and injuries can be severe.
Intersection Collisions: Intersection collisions are common and happen when a person attempts to turn in an intersection or runs a red light or stop sign. One crash can turn into multiple accidents due to impact and heavy traffic flow.
Weather-Related Accidents: When road conditions and visibility change quickly because of inclement weather, multi-car accidents can happen easily. Fog, ice, and rain can all contribute to reduced reaction time for drivers. When this happens, many vehicles can be involved in the accident.
Sometimes, irresponsible drivers cause accidents. Some common negligent actions of drivers include:
- Aggressive driving and road rage
- Distracted driving
- Following the car in front too closely
- Drunk driving
- Drugged driving
- Drowsy driving
- Not driving properly for hazardous road conditions
Anyone involved in a multi-car accident needs a car accident lawyer by their side. It is not easy to determine who may be at fault, but an experienced lawyer knows how to work with police, witnesses, and experts to get to the truth.
What Should I Do in a Multi-Car Accident?
First and foremost, a victim should call 9-1-1 if they are able to after the accident. A motorist should check themselves and their passengers for injuries. It is important to help where it is needed, but motorists should not move people from their vehicles unless they are in imminent danger. Accept help from medics on the scene, even if injuries are not apparent.
The next step is to not move the car and stay in it until police arrive. If the car is in danger of catching fire or being hit, remove oneself from harm quickly. Once it is clear to exit the vehicle, a victim should cooperate with the police. A victim should not admit blame or fault in any way since this will impact a future personal injury claim.
Car accident victims should also take pictures and videos on their cellphones. Victims should make sure to include weather conditions, road conditions, the position of vehicles, damage to vehicles, injuries, and other information that can paint a picture of the scene. At the scene, motorists should talk to bystanders and witnesses to get their statements about what happened. They should make sure to get their contact information as well.
After the accident, it is also important to follow up with a doctor. Seeing a medical professional immediately after the accident will help with a claim and prevent future injuries. Some injuries take time to show up or cause pain.
How can a Lawyer Help Me in a Multi-Car Accident Case?
The most important role a lawyer will play is that of an investigator, especially when no one was assigned fault at the time of the accident. A lawyer will work with police and witnesses to gather evidence, such as:
- Road and weather conditions at the time of the accident.
- Information about the location and exact site of the accident.
- Data about previous accidents in the same location.
- Statements from witnesses, such as bystanders and passengers in the vehicles involved.
- Police reports, videos, photos, and diagrams.
- Videos and photographs that show vehicle damage and positions just after the accident.
- Surveillance video from nearby businesses or traffic cameras.
- Data from vehicle black boxes and other systems.
- Data on manufacturer defects in the cars involved.
- Background information of the drivers involved in or responsible for the accident, including criminal history and driving citations.
A lawyer can also negotiate a settlement. A settlement means that the victim has agreed to receive a monetary amount from the legally liable party in exchange for a promise not to sue. If it is necessary, a lawyer can take the claim to court. Sometimes, the parties cannot reach a fair and just settlement. In this case, a lawyer can build a strong case and see it through to the end, appealing it if it is necessary.
In some circumstances, a lawyer will hire experts, such as engineers, to reconstruct the accident. Other experts may provide testimonies about the car’s damages, a person’s bodily injuries, and even how weather and road conditions could have played roles in the collision.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Help Determine Liability in Multi-Vehicle Collision Cases
Determining who is at fault for a multi-vehicle crash can be difficult, but one of our dedicated Virginia Beach car accident lawyers can help. Physical and emotional injuries from car accidents deserve to be compensated. If you were injured in a chain reaction car accident, our legal team at East Coast Trial Lawyers will fight on your behalf. For more information and a free consultation, call us at 757-352-2237 or complete our online form. We have an office conveniently located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and we proudly serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shore, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, Virginia, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.