Can I File an Injury Claim for a Pile-Up Accident?

With the number of vehicles going in and out of California, different types of traffic accidents, such as truck, pedestrian, and car accidents, may occur. However, more severe crashes, such as pile-up accidents, can pose more significant risks to road users.

Can I File an Injury Claim for a Pile-Up Accident?

If you are involved in a pile-up accident in California, you may question your right to file a claim, especially if the at-fault party has several liabilities to other vehicles. However, remember that you are entitled to compensation if the accident results from the other party's negligence.

This article will help you understand how a personal injury claim works in multi-vehicle accidents and what to do when involved in one.

What Causes a Pile-Up Accident?

Pile-up accidents, often called chain-reaction collisions or multi-vehicle crashes, occur when multiple vehicles are involved in a series of crashes. In such instances, there is usually an initial collision between two vehicles, which eventually leads to other crashes involving three or more vehicles, resulting in minor to catastrophic injuries and damages.

There are several reasons why pile-up accidents occur, such as the following:

  • Poor Visibility: Weather conditions like fog, heavy rain, or snow may hamper road visibility. When drivers can't see clearly, they may fail to respond in time to avoid an accident, resulting in a chain reaction.
  • Tailgating: Tailgating occurs when a vehicle follows another vehicle excessively closely, reducing the time and space available to react. If the leading car slows or stops abruptly, the vehicles behind it may not brake in time, resulting in a chain reaction.
  • Distracted driving: Distracted driving occurs when a driver's attention is diverted from the road by distractions such as texting, talking on the phone, or adjusting the radio. 
  • Mechanical Failures: Mechanical failures, such as brake failures, can make it challenging for a driver to react accordingly, leading to collisions with other vehicles.
  • Poor road conditions: Poor road conditions, such as wet or slippery roads, can limit traction and increase the chances of vehicles slipping or sliding into one another.
  • Lane Changes: Sudden and sudden lane changes, particularly without warning, can catch other drivers off guard, resulting in crashes and subsequent pile-ups.
  • Drowsy Driving: Fatigued drivers may have shorter reaction times and reduced decision-making abilities, increasing the chance of collisions that can cause a chain reaction.
  • Driving Under the Influence: An impaired motorist may have difficulties assessing road situations and reacting appropriately to a specific circumstance, resulting in an accident.

A combination of these elements frequently results in incidents involving numerous automobiles in pile-up accidents. Several variables, including speed, the state of the road, and the quantity of vehicles involved, might affect how serious these collisions are.

How Dangerous Are Multi-Car Pile-Ups?

Because of the complexity and severity of the involved accidents, multi-car pile-ups are extremely risky and can have devastating results. According to an article by USA Today, California had the second-highest number of fatal crashes in 2022, with about 4,407 deadly car accidents.

In most cases, drivers do not have enough vision or response time to avoid a collision due to the violence of a pile-up. There's a high chance that escape routes will be blocked, increasing the likelihood that cars will get stuck in the collision. Aside from this, multi-vehicle accidents often involve large trucks, making them more dangerous to smaller cars.

Because occupants in multi-car accidents may be subjected to several hits from different angles, the dynamics of the accidents contribute to the complexity of injuries. The following are some typical injuries people might get in multiple-car collisions:

  1. Head injuries
  2. Whiplash
  3. Broken bones
  4. Back and spinal cord damages
  5. Internal injuries

In a multi-vehicle accident, even if injuries initially appear minor, it's essential to seek medical assistance immediately after a crash since some injuries can develop or worsen.

Can I File a Claim for a Pile-Up Accident?

If you are in a multi-vehicle accident, you can pursue a claim against the responsible driver to seek compensation for the damages incurred. However, it is essential to present convincing evidence supporting the key elements of negligence, which include:

  • Establishing that the driver was responsible for ensuring the safety of all individuals on the road.
  • Demonstrating that the driver failed to fulfill this duty.
  • Establishing a connection between the breach of duty and the occurrence of a multi-vehicle collision.
  • Showing that the accident resulted in injuries or other forms of damage.

Furthermore, when multiple drivers share responsibility for the crash, you may seek compensation from each. In such complex scenarios, assistance from a multi-car accident lawyer becomes crucial to prove the liability of all involved parties at fault effectively.

Who is Liable for the Pile-Up Accident Involving Multiple Vehicles?

One or more parties can be responsible for a pile-up accident in California, including the following:

The Responsible Party for the Multi-Vehicle Accident

Typically, the driver responsible for causing the initial collision resulting in a multi-car accident is accountable for the resulting damages.

For example, a truck driver who was texting hit a vehicle in front that stopped for a pedestrian. 

Unfortunately, other cars from the back failed to react on time, resulting in a pile-up accident. In this case, the truck driver should be liable for the damages.

Several Vehicle Drivers

If there are several liable parties in an accident, you may file a claim against each. 

Let's say you were the driver who stopped at a pedestrian crossing. Since the truck driver hit you, they are initially responsible for the accident. However, another vehicle also struck you since they were overspeeding when the crash occurred, eventually crashing into your stopped car. You can also file a claim against the speeding driver in this situation. 

Note that while it is possible to file a claim against each of the involved at-fault parties, this can be challenging, especially if you are injured, and you also need the necessary evidence to prove their liabilities. This is why you must hire a California personal injury attorney to handle all your cases while you recover from your injuries.

You Are Partial Responsibility for the Collision

In cases where you share partial responsibility for the collision, you can still seek compensation for damages, albeit with a reduced settlement reflecting your contribution to the incident.

For example, if a tailgating driver fails to stop promptly when you suddenly brake, leading to a rear-end collision, you and the other driver have the right to file a claim. Assuming you are deemed 40% at fault, you may receive 60% of the compensation, while the other driver could pursue a claim against you for 40% of the damages.

Seeking immediate legal assistance from a personal injury lawyer is advisable to take the proper legal steps promptly and prevent case dismissal.

Other Parties Are Liable for the Crash

When other entities share liability for the multi-car collision, you can pursue individual claims against them. The following situations can hold other parties responsible for the accident damages:

  • A local agency failed to keep the road in good condition, resulting in the crash.
  • A vehicle manufacturer produced a malfunctioning product.
  • A truck maintenance technician didn't fix the vehicle's issues properly, resulting in a collision.

With the complexities of a pile-up accident, the best car accident injury lawyer California can offer will use their expertise and resources to establish liability in each case, which is crucial when dealing with multiple claims. This ensures you can pursue the maximum compensation owed to you.

If There Is Only One At-Fault Driver, Can I Still Receive Compensation?

If there is only one at-fault driver and multiple vehicles involved, you might think that it is impossible to receive a settlement for the damages from the crash. In reality, you can still recover compensation for the damages.

This is because, typically, you can go beyond the limits of the defendant's insurance policy by using your insurance policy. This is possible if you have uninsured motorist coverage (UMC) or underinsured motorist coverage (UIM). Usually, such insurance policies can pay for the medical bills and vehicle damage repair costs. 

Moreover, in situations where the at-fault party's insurance falls short of covering your expenses, your attorney can carefully examine your insurance policy to confirm the presence of such coverage and devise the appropriate course of action.

What Damages Can I Include in My Settlement?

The compensation you obtain is contingent on the extent of the damages and their repercussions on your life. When determining the overall settlement, consider the following damages to optimize your payout:

Economic damages encompass concrete losses calculated by examining invoices, receipts, and other pertinent documents, such as past, present, and future medical expenses, costs for vehicle repair or replacement, lost wages and other out-of-pocket expenses.

In contrast, non-economic damages denote intangible losses from an accident that lack a direct monetary value. In car accidents, non-economic damages may address pain and suffering, anxiety, depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and others. 

Furthermore, punitive damages represent additional expenses the court imposes when determining that the responsible party's actions were exceptionally severe or intentional.

While economic damages are relatively straightforward to calculate, assessing the value of non-economic losses can be intricate. California car accident attorneys possess the expertise to evaluate and quantify these non-monetary damages effectively, ensuring you receive the maximum financial compensation possible.

Moreover, these lawyers can assess your personal injury case and determine your eligibility for punitive damages.

How Can a California Multi-Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?

Unfortunately, multi-car pile-ups can become complicated, especially if there is limited evidence to determine who the at-fault party is. Aside from this, victims of multi-vehicle accidents typically refrain from filing a claim, thinking that the at-fault driver probably won't have enough to cover all the damages.

A multi-car accident lawyer has the resources, expertise, and experience to reconstruct the accident and collect proof to build the case. They can also assess the details of the situation to determine suitable legal options for you.