Multi-vehicle car accidents, also known as “pileups” occur when more than two cars hit each other and set off a chain reaction of rear-end accidents. Most often, they happen due to the force of the first collision; the last car in a line of cars (Driver 4) rear-ends the second-to-last in the chain (Driver 3), who then rear-ends Driver 2, who then rear-ends Driver 1, the first car in the line. If there were only two vehicles involved in this scenario—Driver 4 and Driver 3—then it would be clear who was at fault, since the vehicles behind are almost always solely responsible for rear-end collisions. With multi-car accidents, the issue of liability can be more difficult because it’s often tough to establish who did what and at what time. In this post, we’ll examine how liability in multi-car accidents works.
The biggest issue facing law enforcement officers who investigate multi-vehicle accidents is pinpointing causation. In cases where one driver admits to being distracted and being the first car to rear-end another car in line, then that driver will face liability for all of the accidents in the chain reaction. However, with multi-car accidents, there are often other issues involved, including bad weather, road construction, another car accident, and drunk driving.
When trying to get to the bottom of the causation issue in multi-car accidents, law enforcement will often focus on two questions: