Who Is At Fault in a Multi-Vehicle Car Accident?

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The motorist who starts a multi-vehicle car accident may be at-fault; however, the specific details of the multi-vehicle car accident are relevant and will ultimately determine who is financially responsible for the collisions. It’s also possible that several motorists share the blame.

 How Fault Is Evaluated in a Multi-Vehicle Car Accident

Multiple entities may conduct independent investigations to determine fault for a multi-vehicle accident, including law enforcement, insurance adjusters, and car accident attorneys. The conclusions that each of these parties reach could affect the compensation you are entitled to and the compensation you ultimately receive.

Fault is one of the greatest “unknowns” that emerge after an accident. It’s also one of the deciding factors for insurance payouts for victims.

How a Law Enforcement Officer May Determine Fault

The first party to evaluate fault may be the police officer who arrives at the scene of the accident. After scanning the scene, speaking with witnesses, and using their judgment, the officer may file a report explaining who they believe is at fault for the accident. They may assign fault to multiple parties.

You should receive a copy of the law enforcement officer’s report. If you have not received a copy of the report, an attorney from our firm can help you obtain one.

How Insurance Companies May Establish Fault

An insurance company’s determination of fault may ultimately align with the law enforcement officer’s assessment, but this is not a certainty. If an insurance company is going to be financially liable for a multi-vehicle car accident, they will determine who is at fault through their own investigation, so insurance payouts align with the degree of fault for each party.

An insurance adjuster may assign fault for a car accident by:

  • Speaking with all parties involved in the accident and recording their statements
  • Speaking with any witnesses to the accident
  • Reviewing any evidence
  • Reviewing the police report

The insurance company’s conclusion is ultimately the one that matters. If they implicate you in the accident, it’s possible you could recover less than you need and deserve. Our attorneys can negotiate with the adjusters with evidence we gather to ensure they make an informed decision and offer.

How We May Establish Fault for Your Multi-Car Accident

Attorneys representing accident victims can establish fault on their own. Our team may determine fault in a manner similar to the insurance adjuster but reach a different conclusion.

Evidence we gather during our investigations often includes:

  • Traffic camera, dash cam footage, or personal video of the accident
  • Physical evidence from the accident scene, including photographs of damaged vehicles, skid marks, and other indicators of how the accident happened
  • Witness accounts
  • Expert reconstructions of the accident 

Our team may conclude that you were not at fault for your multi-vehicle accident. This may mean that other parties’ insurance covers your losses.

Why Is Determining Fault for a Motor Vehicle Accident Difficult?

When two vehicles collide, evaluating fault may generally be straightforward (though not always). For example, if one vehicle runs into the back of another, the motorist driving the vehicle that rear-ended the other is almost always liable for the accident.

Multi-vehicle accidents are generally more complicated. For example, if a motor vehicle rear-ends another, and then the rear-ended vehicle strikes the vehicle in front of it, who is liable for the second collision?

There are countless other examples of multi-vehicle accidents where liability is unclear. This is why we must know exactly how your accident happened to determine liability. 

Why does Fault Matter for Someone Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident?

Insurance companies use fault to determine who should cover accident-related losses, including medical expenses and property damage. The South Carolina Department of Insurance (SCDOI) explains that insurance is mandatory for motorists in the Palmetto State, but there are several reasons why you want the liable party’s insurer to cover your losses, rather than vice versa. One important reason is that if you’re assigned fault in the collision, you will see a spike in your insurance premiums.

If you seek compensation through a lawsuit, fault will be a key consideration. If your attorney can prove another party’s fault, you have a much stronger case.

South Carolina’s Comparative Negligence Law

According to South Carolina law, a person can recover compensation for damages in an accident as long as they were less than 50 percent responsible for the collision. While you may not have to worry about losing your right to compensation completely, you also stand to recover less for the part you are assumed to have played in the collision.

 An attorney can use the evidence and resources available to them to fight for the compensation you are entitled to.

Call Schiller & Hamilton Today for a Free Consultation About Your Accident

Motor vehicle accidents can cause catastrophic injuries and other harmful outcomes. Our firm pursues justice for the victims and can seek a financial recovery for your losses. 

Call Schiller & Hamilton for your free consultation today.

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