A multi-car or chain reaction accident occurs when three or more vehicles are involved in a crash. Multi-vehicle collisions could include cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other vehicles. Because of the number of vehicles and forces involved, a multi-car accident often results in severe or devastating injuries. Assessing what occurred and who should be held liable requires an experienced lawyer. At Burriss & Ridgeway, our team of Columbia, SC personal injury attorneys have the expertise and resources to handle the most complex accident cases.
Whether you are seeking a settlement or litigating in court, the key to any personal injury claim is determining fault. By gathering evidence, including your statement, photographs, videos, witness testimony, accident reports, and other vital information, our office will work to piece together what occurred and hold the appropriate party financially accountable.
The injuries sustained in a multi-car accident could leave you with a mountain of medical bills while keeping you out of work for weeks or months. If another driver’s negligent behavior caused the accident, they should be held liable for your financial losses. Call (803) 451-4000 to book a free consultation with Burriss Ridgeway Injury Lawyers.
Evidence Used to Establish Fault in a South Carolina Chain Reaction Accident
To prevail in an injury lawsuit arising from an automotive vehicle accident, an injured party must establish that another driver’s negligence caused the accident. To prove negligence in civil court, our Columbia car accident lawyers must demonstrate four factors: duty of care, breach, causation, and damages. As with any other court proceeding, proving a necessary element requires evidence. When a chain reaction accident occurs, multiple parties could be to blame. Therefore, it is important to gather evidence that supports your allegation that another driver was to blame.
Photographs or Videos of the Accident Scene
An accident investigator will take photographs of the scene to analyze details of the crash site. Because the best evidence is available immediately after a crash, any pictures you take following an accident could provide important details. For example, the position of the vehicles and the damage they sustained would help an accident reconstructionist piece together how the accident occurred. Additionally, photographs of skid marks or other markings on the road surface could assist in establishing speeds, changes in direction, and impact forces.
In some cases, surveillance video from a neighboring business or home is available. However, this crucial information might not be retained indefinitely. Many video systems only store a few days or weeks of information. If you fail to contact our South Carolina attorneys as soon as possible, this valuable footage could be lost forever.
Examination of Vehicles
Photographs are helpful in understanding the aftermath of an accident. However, it is likely that an accident investigator will also examine the actual vehicles involved. By evaluating the extent and location of the damage each vehicle sustained, an investigator could determine the direction and force of the impact. Combined with photographs taken at the accident scene, an examination of the vehicles should enable an experienced investigator to map out the accident.
While your statement will only carry so much weight, you will still want to recall what occurred as accurately as possible. Therefore, it is suggested to write down your memories of the crash as soon as you can. By writing down the facts of the accident soon after it occurred, you will ensure that small, seemingly trivial details will not be forgotten. You will also have a written document to refer to if you are asked questions regarding the accident weeks or months later.
Photographs are often said to be worth a thousand words, but they might not contain the details or narrative that an eyewitness could provide. Memory is a tricky and often fallible tool. Therefore, it is important to have multiple corroborating statements from different witnesses. Also, different witnesses might have observed different aspects of the same event. Depending on their location and what they were doing at the time of the accident, one witness might describe the final moments when the cars came to rest, while another witness could testify to the moments before the initial collision. By speaking with all the available witnesses after an accident, our South Carolina personal injury lawyers will work to construct one cohesive narrative. You want to contact an attorney immediately to ensure the event is fresh in any witness’s memory.
Police Accident Report
A responding police officer should file an accident report. This report will usually contain a diagram of the accident, statements from all drivers and passengers involved, and statements from any witnesses. Additionally, the report will contain the investigating officer’s opinion, including any citations that were issued after the crash. This information is helpful in determining fault and liability.
South Carolina’s Comparative Negligence Rule
Determining fault is a crucial part of any personal injury claim arising from a car accident. When multiple cars are involved, more than one driver could be held accountable. This is important because your potential award could be impacted if you were found to have contributed to the accident.
South Carolina adheres to a modified comparative negligence rule for personal injury cases. Under this rule, an injured plaintiff’s compensation would be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, in a two-car collision, the defendant could be found to be 60% at fault, while the jury attributed 40% of the fault to the plaintiff. Therefore, if the jury awarded the plaintiff $100,000, it would be reduced to $60,000. A plaintiff could be up to 50% to blame and still receive compensation. However, once a plaintiff’s contribution exceeds 50%, they are barred from recovery.
This rule also governs cases where multiple parties are to blame. A jury might not hold one party more than 50% to blame. In this case, an injured plaintiff could still recover as long as their contribution is less than the combined fault of the other drivers.
Our Experienced South Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Offer Free Consultations
There is no such thing as a typical car accident case. Every personal injury claim presents its own unique challenges. When your injury claim arises from a multi-car accident, there could be several levels of difficulties and complexities. Our knowledgeable South Carolina attorneys have the skill and experience to tackle the most demanding case. Contact Burriss & Ridgeway at (803) 451-4000 to discuss your legal options.