Who is to blame for multi-vehicle pile-ups?

When you’ve been in a car accident, confusion often reigns supreme. Aside from being shaken by the ordeal – quite literally – you’re immediately thrust into determining who was at fault, if everyone involved is all right and how bad the damage is to your car – not necessarily in that order.

And that’s what happens when a crash involves only one other motorist. Imagine what it’s like when accidents include numerous automobiles ; it’s mayhem on steroids.

Unfortunately, multi-car incidents are fairly frequent, especially when the weather turns cold and the roads get slick. Indeed, according to estimates from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, of the nearly 35,100 people who were killed in traffic incidents in 2015 – the most recent year for which data is available – nearly one-third were from multi-vehicle crashes. More specifically, 42 percent of occupant deaths in 2015 were single-vehicle accidents, while 58 percent were multi-vehicle.

Multi-vehicle crashes jumped 11 percent in 2015

Thanks to improved safety features, deadly accidents are nowhere near as common as they used to be, with fatalities among drivers down 15 percent from 1975, according to the IIHS. However, injuries still number in the millions, jumping to 2.4 million in 2015 from 2.3 million a year earlier, based on calculations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many of these were from multi-vehicle crashes, which also rose in 2015, by 11.2 percent.

YouTube is littered with web videos depicting real-life chain reaction crashes. Like a line of dominoes, one motorist’s actions have an immediate impact on the next driver and on and on the crashes go, resulting in a sweeping pile of twisted metal.

Multi-vehicle crashes jumped 11 percent in 2015

It’s not easy to get to the bottom of how chain reaction crashes occurred.

Unique nature of crashes complicates matters

How do you determine who is to blame? Like the accident itself, the answer is often multifaceted, depending upon the circumstances and the manner in which motorists were struck in a sequential fashion.

For example, when you’re hit from behind, the trailing driver is almost always the one who carries the most blame (although there are some exceptions). But when Driver D – the one that hit you – is struck by Driver C, and that motorist was hit by Driver B, who was hit by Driver A, the ultimate fault lies with Driver A.

This presents a bit of a challenge for police, who are typically charged with investigating how the accident occurred, because Driver A may not be the sole individual who led to the chain reaction. For example, he or she may have swerved out of the way when another motorist ran a red light – and the red-light runner may have steered clear of the incident entirely. What happens if the police can’t track down the motorist who caused the commotion?

Approximately 1 in 8 drive without insurance

Then there’s the insurance situation. Even though just about every state requires motorists to purchase auto insurance, 13 percent of Americans drive without coverage, according to 2015 figures from the Insurance Research Council. Insurers provide the financial resources that result from liability, but if the party at fault for the chain reaction crash doesn’t have insurance, being compensated for your losses may not come with the greatest of ease.

What’s more, if police are able to determine the motorist that was the principal cause of the multi-car pile-up, did the actions of other people make the incident worse than it had to be? For example, were people texting and driving, following too closely or speeding?

Questions like these can take several months to come to a final conclusion, which can be a serious problem when you’re injured and have medical bills to pay. At Global Financial, we provide our clients with cash advances, enabling them to get out from under health services debt and pay for the court costs associated with litigation.  While this may sound like a lawsuit loan, cash advances are slightly different because unlike loans, repayment is contingent upon outcome. In short, if you don’t win your case, the advance is on us.

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