Who Is at Fault in Multi-Vehicle Traffic Accidents?
Determining fault in any traffic accident is complicated, but when the accident involves more than two vehicles, this determination becomes even more difficult. Multi-vehicle accidents – like pileups – are as complicated as they are dangerous. As driver distraction becomes more and more prevalent – especially as it relates to texting and other smartphone usage – so too do multi-vehicle accidents.
A Note on Driver Responsibility
It is important to note that every driver is responsible for driving safely at all times – regardless of factors such as the condition of the road or the effects of inclement weather, sudden changes in traffic, forward accidents, deer on the road, or anything else that can impede safe travel. This fact means that a motorist cannot point to an unexpected traffic occurrence as a means of abdicating driver responsibility in the event of an accident.
Common Multi-Vehicle Accident Scenarios
Multi-vehicle accidents can take myriad forms and can have countless causes, but several scenarios commonly lead to these dangerous events, including:
If you are required to stop suddenly in reaction to a deer barreling across the interstate (or as a result of any other dangerous event), it leaves any rear motorists responsible for safely accommodating your sudden stop. When rear motorists fail to respond in kind, multi-vehicle accidents are not uncommon. Depending upon the situation, one or more of those rear motorists is likely at fault.
If you screech safely to a stop behind a motorist who stopped suddenly due to a dangerous condition ahead, the motorist behind you may not be as conscientious and could slam into you as a result. If this impact forces you into the forward stopped car, you have a multi-vehicle accident on your hands that puts you squarely in the middle, and that leaves the rear driver responsible.
Accidents in intersections often involve more than one vehicle. Intersections are accident hotspots because they represent a space where traffic coming from all directions flows together. When motorists make it their mission to speed through intersections to avoid being slowed or inconvenienced, they increase the risk of multi-vehicle accidents happening considerably.
Driver Distraction Plays a Key Role
Pileups and other multi-vehicle accidents are often predicated on slow reaction times. When motorists face a driving challenge ahead that they fail to respond to quickly enough collectively, it often translates to pileups. When a motorist is texting behind the wheel, it is estimated that the driver’s thoughts and vision are trained on his or her phone for an average of 5 seconds. It is not difficult to recognize that this leaves said driver extremely ill-prepared to react safely to an unexpected shift in traffic.