In a chain reaction accident, three or more cars hit each other in a series of rear end collisions, usually caused by the force of the first collision. These types of accidents involve many drivers, who may each be at fault for the accident to some degree.
For instance, Driver 2 isn’t paying attention and hits Driver 1. Driver 3 has to stop short and hits Driver 2, and Driver 4, who is unprepared, hits Driver 3. If you are injured in a chain reaction accident, you may require compensation for missed wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. When this happens, there are fortunately some options available to help you get back on your feet.
Types of Injuries Incurred Due to Chain Reaction Accidents
Injuries sustained from chain reaction accidents can range in levels of severity. A chain reaction accident on a calm and quiet street can result in bruising, cuts, and scrapes, while a high-speed chain reaction accident on the highway can lead to broken bones, spine and brain injuries, and worse. The level of severity of your injuries will affect the medical costs needed to treat your injuries, as well as the amount of time and money you will lose due to missed work.
To determine which of the many drivers is at fault in a chain reaction accident, you should consider the rule of negligence. In other words, which driver (or drivers) was careless while driving and caused the accident? A good way to determine the negligent driver or drivers is to judge which drivers were following the car in front of them at a safe driving distance, which allows for enough time to stop in the event of an unexpected road block. Determining who was driving at a safe distance, and the order of impact of the cars involved, can be made easier with the following evidence:
• Eyewitness accounts of the accident
• Police reports
• Vehicle damage
• Skid marks, vehicle debris, and other evidence at the scene of the accident
Damages That May Occur in a Chain Reaction Accident
Because chain reaction auto accidents are immensely varied, it is hard to be specific about the sort of damages that might be experienced. If you are lucky, you may get away with a few bumps and scratches and maybe some paintwork needed on the side of your car.
If you are very unlucky, your car could be a totaled and you could end up with a permanent disability.
The potential damages from any type of auto accident, however many vehicles are finally involved depend partly on the state where you had your accident. In a no-fault state, you will have to claim compensation for injuries from your own insurer, but this won’t cover very serious injuries, property damage or non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
For all these damages you will need to file a personal injury claim against one or more at-fault parties. If the accident happened in an at-fault state, then you may have no other option other than to file one or more PI claims anyway.
Damages are generally divided into two main categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages could include:
- cost of medical treatment to date;
- estimated cost of future medical treatment, if necessary;
- cost of repair or replacement of your auto;
- cost of repair or replacement of any other damaged property such as electronic gadgets;
- loss of earnings forfeited because of your injuries including possible future loss of earnings.
Economic damages tend to be the easiest to quantify. It may be easier to let your attorney calculate non-economic damages, especially if there are multiple parties involved in a claim as might happen in a multi-vehicle pile-up.
Compensation That May Be Available
You are only able to be compensated for damages if you can prove who caused your injuries and that their actions were negligent in some way. This is more difficult to do in a chain reaction type auto accident but not impossible.
It is important to obtain as much evidence that can help to support your claim as possible. Even if your injuries are only relatively minor, it is important to see a doctor to get your injuries examined and assessed.
Whatever medical treatment is advised, you should document it as much as you can. Every report, invoice and receipt will help to back up your claim and make it easier for your attorney to justify how much is claimed. The following is a list of typical documents that may be vital evidence in a personal injury claim:
- reports from doctor’s visits;
- invoices for medical treatment of any type;
- evidence of payment for medication;
- evidence of payment for tests and scans;
- evidence from your employer of lost earnings;
- mechanical report of crash damage to your auto;
- estimate of cost of repair or replacement of your damaged vehicle;
- estimate of the cost of repair or replacement of any other damaged property.
Filing a Claim
In a chain reaction accident, it is important to identify who was at fault. There may be more than one party who shared some, or all, of the fault. It may be difficult working out the proportion of fault that lies with these various parties but it is important to do this.
You may need to file separate claims with each at-fault party. A PI attorney with experience in multiple vehicle crashes will be an invaluable aid in a complex PI claim scenario.
Each state maintains a statute of limitations for PI claims. Beyond the final date for submissions, commonly either 2 or 3 years from the date of the accident, it may be impossible to make a claim for compensation.
It is prudent not to admit fault of your own, but be aware that in many, if not all, states, you may still be entitled to a share of compensation even if you are determined to be partly o blame for the series of crashes.
Any PI claim is often only as good as the value of the evidence submitted. Basically, there has to be clear proof of negligence and that the negligent act or acts were directly the cause of injuries and property damage.
What to Do if You Are Injured in a Chain Reaction Accident
If you have been injured in a chain reaction car accident, it is important to exchange contact and insurance policy information with all of the drivers involved in the crash. It is also helpful to get the contact information of any eyewitnesses to the incident for testimony, if needed at a later date. It’s also a good idea to call the police to ensure that a report is created for the accident. Photographing the scene of the accident, including damage to all vehicles, property, and the surrounding area, will also help your case.
Retaining a personal injury lawyer will help in organizing and identifying all of the important evidence needed for your claim. If you believe you are responsible for a portion of the chain reaction accident, a defense attorney may be helpful to you in the event that other drivers seek personal injury compensation against your insurance policy.