Chain Reaction Car Accidents – Who is Ultimately Responsible for Paying Compensation?

Drivers in many chain reaction car accidents do not have much time to decide about whether or not to hit automobiles ahead of them. Most terrified drivers slam on the brakes too late, drift into other lanes, and skid. Sometimes, in order to escape an accident, automobiles swerve into oncoming traffic, only to produce a horrific chain reaction and a greater pile-up. It should come as no surprise that multi-car collisions are among the deadliest on the highway.

According to a recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), chain reaction automobile crashes involving passenger cars result in more than 13,000 fatalities each year, accounting for more than 40% of all motor vehicle accidents.

What is a Chain Reaction Car Accidents?

A chain reaction car accident occurs when a single incident causes a car to collide with another motor vehicle, leading to other vehicles in the area to crash as well. When more than two cars collide in a series of rear-end collisions, this is known as a multi-vehicle accident, which is commonly referred to as a chain reaction car accident.

These types of accidents can occur as a result of a single driver’s irresponsibility, but they can also occur as a result of numerous drivers’ negligence. Many individuals can be hurt, including passengers in the vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and even pedestrians. As a result, the ensuing personal injury claim might be exceptionally difficult to litigate.

Who is at fault in a Chain Reaction Car Accident?

Trying to figure out who is the responsible driver in a chain reaction car accident can be difficult. If one of the drivers admits to the fault and states that they were negligent in some manner, then they will likely bare 100% of the liability in this situation. However, this is not typically the case, and there will be multiple factors to consider to determine who is at fault:

  • Aggressive driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Impaired driving
  • Poor road conditions (pothole, gravel, low shoulder)
  • Road construction
  • Weather conditions like snow, rain, fog, and ice

Under Iowa law, the jury will review all of the evidence before deciding who is to blame. One of the other drivers may then assert that the plaintiff was negligent, and the jury will assign the plaintiff a percentage of fault. The recovery of any of the drivers will be reduced by his own amount of blame.

Iowa “At-Fault” Laws

In regards to car accidents, Iowa is an “at-fault” state. In an at-fault jurisdiction, the driver who is responsible for the accident is also responsible to pay for damages to other drivers. Anyone involved in the collision will go through the “at-fault” driver’s car insurance. Sometimes finding the at-fault driver in a chain reaction car accident can be difficult, therefore, the insurance adjusters and police will use the available evidence from the crash site to decide who is at fault for the accident.

Iowa has comparative negligence laws, which mean the fault can be shared by multiple drivers, though there is a limitation–if a driver is 50% or more at fault, that cannot collect for the damages incurred from the accident. For example, one driver could be 70% responsible for the accident while another driver is 20% responsible. That means that the driver who is 20% responsible can cover 80% of their damages in a lawsuit. However, the other driver will not be able to collect in a personal injury lawsuit.

Comparative Fault and Joint and Several Liability

Iowa comparative fault laws allow someone to collect damages after an accident even when they bare some of the fault. However, as stated above, if they are more than 50% at fault, they will not be able to collect. In this case, the defendant will be deemed as “joint and severally liable.”

If one of the defendants in a chain reaction car accident case is found to be jointly and severally liable, they may be obliged to pay all of the damages incurred to the other drivers, even if they exceed the percentage of responsibility assigned to the jointly and severally liable individual. If a defendant is determined to be 50 percent or more at fault, Iowa law treats them as jointly and severally liable, and they are responsible for the total amount of fault not given to the other drivers.

Iowa Chain Reaction Car Accidents in the News

Unfortunately, chain reaction car accidents are fairly common on Iowa highways. There was a recent chain-reaction car crash outside Des Moines Iowa in De Soto that resulted in two fatalities. According to a news article, the accident occurred on Interstate 80 in the middle of the afternoon. The cause the accident was due to excessive speeding. A driver was traveling at speeds greater than the posted limit and crashed into a guard rail.

The accident caused a semi-truck driver to come to a sudden stop, which resulted in a minivan crashing into the back of the semi-truck. The driver of the first vehicle died, and the driver of the minivan died, as well. No lawsuit was filed in this case.

In even more recent news, in Northern Iowa, there was a chain reaction car accident that involved four vehicles and injured three people. A driver, car A, passed two vehicles and then slowed down to make a U-turn, which caused car B behind them to crash into car A. Next, car B then struck two other vehicles causing a four-car chain reaction vehicle accident. The investigation into fault for this accident is still ongoing.

Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling Personal Injury Attorneys

After a chain reaction car accident, it is imperative that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible. If you or a loved one has been injured, contact the Iowa personal injury attorneys at Mueller, Schmidt, Mulholland & Cooling to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys. You can reach us online or by phone at (515) 444-4000. Our offices are located in Des Moines, Iowa.