Who is Liable in a Multi-Car Pile Up?

motor vehicle accident

With more vehicles on the road every day it’s no surprise that incidents involving multiple cars are on the rise. You may be driving with the utmost care, but sometimes you may be rear-ended merely because the car behind you was hit. In one moment, a chain reaction could escalate into a life-threatening and dangerous situation.

So if you were caught in the midst of a multi-car crash how do you know who is to blame for the accident and liable to pay?

In motor vehicle accidents, it can be complicated determining who is at fault. These are just a few scenarios leading to a multi-car crash:

SCENARIO 1: Sometimes, the vehicle right at the back fails to stop and collides into the vehicle ahead of it, which in turn bumps into the one in the front and so on.

SCENARIO 2: A car is stationary at a stop light for example and gets rear-ended by the car behind. The vehicle behind the middle car may not see or realise what’s unfolding and collide straight into the middle car. This could also result in a second impact on the first car.

SCENARIO 3: In an entirely different situation, a driver might suffer a medical emergency behind the wheel and inadvertently collide into the vehicle in the front triggering a multi-car collision.

Who is to blame in a multi-car accident?

Each case has different circumstances which will have to be investigated thoroughly to determine which driver is at fault and liable to pay.

In a two-car accident, it’s the car behind that is considered to be at fault for not reducing speed and stopping, even though the car in front may have stopped abruptly for whatever reason.

When there is a pile-up of three or more vehicles, a car will still be at fault for rear-ending another vehicle unless it was also rear-ended from behind.

So in the first scenario above, the first car that started the rear-end collision could be held liable for all cars in front of it that were impacted. Vehicles caught in the middle that lose control and are forced into the vehicle ahead due to a rear impact will not be at fault.

In the second scenario, the middle car would be liable for the crash as it caused the first impact, although it was in turn rear-ended after the accident by a third vehicle.

In the third scenario, it could be defined as a blameless accident as the accident was out of the driver’s control. Note that with changes to the Motor Accident Law in NSW from 1st December 2017, compensation can be obtained in blameless accidents.

Who’s liable to pay?

Every driver has a duty to use reasonable care when behind the wheel. This duty extends to the other drivers around them. Failing to demonstrate this duty of care results in negligence, and if a driver is deemed to be negligent, that person can be held liable for causing personal injury and sued for damages in a car accident.

All registered vehicles in NSW have compulsory third party insurance. It is the insurer that pays out the compensation for personal injury claims of other parties. If you are at fault and liable to pay money to another party, an insurance policy may or may not pay this liability for you after a thorough investigation.

Do you need any help with your claim?

Personal injury in motor vehicle accidents can be tragic and devastating, even more so when a fault is involved. Strict time limits also apply to motor accident claims. It is highly recommended to contact a compensation lawyer to ensure you do not miss out on your entitlement.

Taylor & Scott Lawyers have been helping accident victims for almost 100 years. Our experience gives us the advantage that you want on your side.

It is important to note laws governing personal injury vary depending upon the state or territory in which an accident occurs. Taylor & Scott Lawyers are your trusted specialists to fight for the rights of accident victims in NSW.

Our compensation lawyers will visit you in the hospital or at home if you are unable to come to us.

Arrange an appointment using our online contact form or call 1800 600 664. In many compensation cases, we’ll act for you on a no win/no fee basis.

At Taylor and Scott, We Care For You.

How can we help?