What Happens When It’s A Multi-Car Accident?

Published on 01/27/2022 by Monica Burneikis

Whenever more than two vehicles or drivers are involved in an accident, it is considered a multi-car accident. Often, these result from a chain reaction where one driver hits a car, cyclist, pedestrian, or object, then another car hits the first driver, and so on. Unfortunately, these pile-ups can continue indefinitely. 

If you are involved in a multi-car accident, you should seek help from a trusted legal advocate as soon as possible. These cases can be complicated, and you may find yourself facing unfair penalties or not getting the compensation you deserve.

Who Is At Fault In A Multi-Car Accident?

Sometimes the chain reaction we mentioned occurs in a series of rear-endings. These cases can be more straightforward. However, other times accidents take place in an intersection, a busy town square, or on a road with oncoming traffic. In situations involving head-on collisions, side-impact collisions, or cars running off the roadway and striking innocent pedestrians, bystanders, or inanimate objects, it can be extraordinarily difficult to determine who is truly at fault. If a driver ran a red light or was speeding through an intersection, such may be easy to prove.  However, sometimes the scene is so chaotic and multi-layered, that it is difficult to determine who really is at fault. In these situations, the statements of involved parties and percipient witnesses are key to deciding who is ultimately to blame.

What To Do Next

Keep yourself (and others) as safe as possible

A slew of accident victims milling about on the road is never safe. Whenever you are involved in an accident, it is essential to keep a Safety First approach, knowing all of the other logistics will follow. Read The California Department of Insurance’s post, So You’ve Had an Accident: What’s Next for instructions.

Importantly, never exit your car unless you are confident it is safe to do so. Next, assess your own and others’ injuries and call 9-1-1 if there is a chance someone is seriously injured.   

Get eye witnesses’ information

Everyone involved in the accident has their own perspective, memory and story about what happened. However, sometimes bystanders are the most accurate witnesses to the event because they are not experiencing a state of shock as those involved in the accident likely are, and they may have had a fuller view of the factors or situations leading to the wreck. 

Always be sure to get the names and contact information of all witnesses if possible. Take a picture of their driver’s license or ID if they give you permission to do so. If they don’t want to wait at the scene for the police to arrive, the investigating officers, your insurance agent or lawyer can reach out to them later.

Take photos of the multi-car accident

Assuming it is safe to do so, take photos of the scene of the accident and the other vehicles involved. Once people start moving around, leaving the scene, or relocating the cars involved in the wreck, the more difficult it is to paint a picture of what happened. Your quick attention to taking photos is imperative evidence of the position of the vehicles after the wreck.  Similarly, if you notice a witness or bystander taking videos or pictures of the scene, get their contact information and ask them to send you copies of the photos and videos for your insurance company. Most people are happy to do so.

Remain on the scene until the police come

If you are involved in a minor fender bender with a single car, the vehicles are drivable afterwards, and all parties are amenable to sharing information (driver’s license, insurance, registration, etc.), you generally do not have to wait for the police to arrive. If, however, there are multiple cars involved, or if anyone is injured, it is best to stay on the scene (safety being the priority) and wait until the police arrive. If you have to leave for any reason, contact the police and let them know. They can contact you and will appreciate knowing that you are not fleeing the scene or trying to hide anything. Also, never leave the scene without providing you information to the other drivers involved.

Record your version of what happened

Use a voice recorder app on your phone to record your version of exactly what you saw, heard and experienced. Do this as soon as possible after the collision, as this is the time when the event will be the freshest in your mind. As soon as you start talking to others and hearing their version of what they saw or experienced, the more likely your story is to change or evolve. It is best to have a clear, honest and fresh version of the event to play back for your attorney.

Were you recently involved in a multi-car accident? Were you involved in a car accident in the past two years and feel you were misrepresented, blamed or are not fairly compensated for your injuries? Contact Burneikis Law. We will work diligently to protect your interests.

Monica Burneikis - Oakland Personal Injury Attorney
Monica Burneikis has been an accident and personal injury lawyer for over 15 years. She knows what it takes to fight with insurance companies in order to obtain maximum compensation for injury victims and their families.
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