Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC

How Do You Prove Fault in a Chain Reaction Accident in Pennsylvania?

August 24, 2023

Accidents involving multiple vehicles present unique challenges when it comes to seeking financial compensation. Identifying the vehicle that triggered the crash can be crucial for filing a successful claim, and if multiple vehicles contributed to causing the accident, you may need to file multiple claims in order to recover the financial compensation you deserve.

Proving Fault in a Chain Reaction Accident

So, how do you prove fault in a chain reaction accident? Fundamentally, the process is no different than it is after any other type of car accident. You need to engage a law firm to conduct an on-scene investigation as soon as possible, and based on the evidence uncovered during this investigation, your law firm will determine what additional steps are necessary.

However, the fact that multiple vehicles are involved adds to the complexity, and this makes it especially important to engage a law firm that has experience handling these types of cases. For example, during the investigation, your law firm will likely need to address issues such as:

  • Which vehicle triggered the collision? Identifying the vehicle that triggered a chain reaction accident is a key first step toward establishing liability for the crash. In some cases, this vehicle’s driver (or his or her insurance company) will be solely responsible for all victims’ accident-related losses.
  • Could any other drivers have taken steps to prevent a multi-vehicle collision? While the vehicle that triggered the collision will be solely responsible in some cases, it is not unusual for multiple parties to share liability for a chain reaction accident. If other drivers could (and should) have taken steps to prevent a multi-vehicle collision, they (or their insurance companies) may all hold partial financial responsibility.
  • Was driver negligence the only factor? In chain reaction accident cases, it is important to consider the possibility that driver negligence wasn’t the only factor involved. Did someone’s brakes fail? Was the road slippery because it wasn’t properly treated? Did a stoplight malfunction? These issues (among many others) can give rise to claims against vehicle manufacturers, government agencies and other third parties.

To address these issues (among others), your law firm will need to examine several forms of evidence from a variety of different sources. When investigating a chain reaction accident, it is not uncommon to obtain evidence such as:

  • Forensic Evidence from the Crash Site – Conducting an on-scene investigation is typically the first step toward proving fault in a chain reaction accident. This investigation may produce various forms of forensic evidence, from skid marks and damaged guardrails to evidence of dangerous weather conditions and traffic patterns.
  • Inspection Reports for Each Vehicle Involved – Examining the damage to each vehicle involved in the collision can also assist with piecing together how and why it happened. Similar to the on-scene investigation, it is important to conduct these inspections before any critical evidence disappears.
  • Drivers’ Phone Records – Distracted driving is a common factor in chain reaction accidents. If one or more drivers were talking on the phone or texting at the time of the crash, their phone records could be key evidence of liability.
  • Drivers’ Employment Records – Chain reaction accidents often involve large trucks and other commercial vehicles. If any driver who was at fault in the collision was working, his or her employer could be liable for your (and everyone else’s) accident-related losses.
  • Vehicles’ Computer Data – Many modern vehicles have computers that record everything from vehicle speed to the harshness of braking. If a driver’s vehicle data show that he or she was being careless or reckless, this could play a key role in establishing liability as well.
  • Video Footage of the Accident – Was your chain reaction accident caught on video by a traffic, security, or dash camera? If so, the footage of the accident could clearly show who was at fault in the collision.
  • Eyewitness Testimony, Photos, Social Media Posts and Other Evidence – Eyewitness testimony can play a key role in chain reaction accident cases, as can drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses’ photos from the crash site. Social media posts can serve as evidence in insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits as well, and it is becoming increasingly common for social media to play a central role in establishing liability after serious collisions.

Accident reconstruction can also be an important tool for providing fault in a chain reaction. Accident reconstruction is the science of using the evidence that is available to piece together the events leading up to a crash. Expert accident reconstructionists use computer simulations to show what happened—often with surprising detail—and these simulations can also serve as evidence in insurance claims and personal injury litigation.

How Do You Prove You Weren’t At Fault in a Chain Reaction Accident?

For drivers who have been seriously injured in chain reaction accidents, another key question is: How do you prove you weren’t at fault in a chain reaction accident?

In Pennsylvania, if you are more than 50 percent at fault in an accident, you are not entitled to any financial compensation for your injuries. If you are less than 50 percent at fault (but more than zero percent at fault), the amount you can recover is reduced in proportion to your percentage of liability.

This can make a huge difference when it comes to your recovery. As a result, it is essential to make sure that the insurance companies do not unfairly blame you for your own injuries. Here too, a prompt and comprehensive investigation is key, and you need to work with a law firm that has the team and resources required to represent you effectively.

Get Help from the Car Accident Lawyers at Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC

If you need to know more about proving fault and protecting your legal rights after a chain reaction accident in Pennsylvania, we encourage you to contact us promptly. With offices in Allentown, Bethlehem, Doylestown, Easton and Stroudsburg, we handle cases statewide. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call 888-777-7098 or tell us how we can reach you online now.