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Who Do You Hold Liable if You’ve Been Hit by Multiple Cars?

— April 15, 2024

The question of who to hold liable for a car accident is rarely straightforward, even for the simplest cases. This challenge is multiplied in accident claims involving multiple vehicles.

In the blink of an eye, an ordinary day can transform into a harrowing ordeal, leaving victims grappling with the aftermath of a multi-vehicle accident. Such was the case on a bustling stretch of Interstate 20, where a pedestrian was struck amidst the fast-moving traffic during the evening rush. This tragic incident, which began with a single collision, quickly escalated as several other vehicles became participants in a chain reaction that ultimately led to the pedestrian’s untimely death.

While every case is not nearly as serious as this, the question of who to hold responsible in an accident involving multiple vehicles comes up often. But the blame is not simply heaped on the first driver in the chain. With multiple drivers involved, the question becomes how liable each one is. That is why it is common to hire an Arlington, TX car accident lawyer to sue most, if not all, the parties after a multi-car accident with the intention of sorting out liability during litigation. Generally, drivers are held liable for their share of causing the crash.

The Tragic Incident on Interstate 20 in Arlington, TX

The pedestrian, for reasons unknown, found himself on the busy lanes of Interstate 20 during the evening hours. Initial investigations suggest that after being hit by the first vehicle, several subsequent vehicles also struck the man, leading to a chain of impacts that ultimately proved fatal.

The Arlington Police Department’s detailed report on the incident underscores the chaotic and tragic nature of the accident. It highlights how difficult it can be to sort out a multi-vehicle accident. However, it is a hurdle that can be overcome.

Determining the Liability for Multiple Drivers in a Car Accident

In Arlington, as in many jurisdictions across the United States, drivers are required to exercise due care to avoid collisions with pedestrians under any circumstances. This means yielding to pedestrians, even if they are not at a crosswalk. And, this duty of care certainly extends to unusual situations, such as encountering a pedestrian on an interstate highway. It is hardly a defense for a driver to claim they hit a pedestrian because they had the right of way.

The initial focus on accidents of this complexity typically rests on the actions of the first vehicle to strike. Courts and investigators will usually start by asking whether the first driver to hit the victim was exercising enough caution and control of their vehicle and whether they could have avoided the crash.

The complexity of multi-vehicle accidents lies in the domino effect that often characterizes these incidents. A single act of negligence – be it speeding, distracted driving, or failure to obey traffic signals – can set off a chain reaction, leading to a pile-up involving several vehicles. Determining which driver’s negligence initiated this chain reaction is the first step in unraveling the question of liability.

Still, the other drivers also bear scrutiny. Each driver is responsible for maintaining control of their vehicle and for being sufficiently alert to respond to unexpected obstacles, especially something like an accident that happened in front of them.

These drivers might also share liability if they were following too closely or speeding, preventing them from being able to avoid crashing.

Like in the case above, the issue of whether any subsequent vehicle in the crash caused additional harm to the victim is raised. It is not impossible for someone to be injured by the first vehicle and then suffer a completely new injury by the other drivers caught in the chain reaction. If the victim was already dead when the additional collisions happened, it might make the point moot. However, these drivers’ liability should still be analyzed as they might still share some of the blame in a wrongful death suit.

Dealing with the Aftermath of a Multi-Vehicle Accident

Dealing with the fallout from such heartbreaking events means stepping into a legal world filled with complexities, both for the families left behind and those injured in similar situations. Seeking compensation isn’t just about filing a claim, it’s about understanding what negligence really means and unraveling the complicated threads in a case to get at the heart of what really happened.

Lawyer working at desk; image by Sora Shimazaki, via
Lawyer working at desk; image by Sora Shimazaki, via

Victims and their families often find themselves dealing with multiple insurance companies, legal battles against multiple drivers, and plenty of emotional and financial fallout from the accident.

In the wake of a multi-car crash, having a lawyer has become indispensable. Car accident attorneys provide the experience necessary to unravel complex cases and advocating for the victims and their families.

Evidence Needed to Prove a Multi-Vehicle Accident

The investigative process for a multi-car accident can be an intricate and exhaustive one. It requires a meticulous approach and a variety of evidence, from traffic camera footage to vehicle damage reports, eyewitness testimonies, and police records. All of this evidence will then be analyzed to piece together what happened, how to explain it to the jury, and how to apportion responsibility.

One of the most critical aspects of the investigation is reconstructing the accident. The reconstruction process can help explain the events leading up to the accident and identify the initial point of impact. By using this technique, attorneys can determine which driver was responsible for triggering the accident, as well as where other points of impact occurred.

Accident reconstruction involves various techniques, including the use of measurements and data taken from the scene and put into computer simulation software, along with expert analysis. Reconstruction experts must consider the speed and direction of each vehicle, the road conditions, and any other factors that might have contributed to the accident.

Any Party that Contributed to Your Accident Should Be Held Liable

The question of who to hold liable for a car accident is rarely straightforward, even for the simplest cases. This challenge is multiplied in accident claims involving multiple vehicles. Still, it is not a knot so complex that it cannot be untangled by a knowledgeable and experienced attorney. The same evidence that proves a single driver’s negligence can be used to show how multiple drivers were negligent at the same time. Ultimately, you can hold as many drivers liable as you need to; you don’t need to just pick one.

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