I Was Rear-Ended, then I Struck Another Car. Who is At Fault?

Car accidents can be very frustrating for everyone involved. Regardless of how minor an accident is, there may be disagreement over fault or a hold-up with an insurance claim. However, accidents that involve more than two vehicles can be particularly aggravating. If you were rear-ended and then you hit the car in front of you, you may be in a pickle. Not only may you find it difficult to get compensation from the driver behind you, but the one in front may try to recover damages from you.

It can be difficult to prove that the rear driver was at fault and you were not responsible for the damage to the vehicle in front of you. You may have heard that the driver who rear-ends another is always responsible. While this is often the case in two-vehicle accidents, chain-reaction crashes may be different. If you’ve been involved in a collision involving multiple vehicles, you need to contact a South Carolina auto accident lawyer. In the meantime, let’s look at some of the considerations surrounding these types of cases.

Determining Liability in A Multi-Vehicle Accident In South Carolina

We’ll start by putting you somewhat at ease. You won’t automatically be deemed responsible for the second accident. If it’s clear that someone else’s negligence caused the chain reaction, that driver won’t try to get damages from you. Instead, a number of factors will determine who was at-fault for the series of crashes.

One of the first things your lawyer will look into is why a vehicle crashed into the back of your car. It may be because the driver was texting and driving instead of focusing on the road. It could be that they were drowsy or intoxicated and, therefore, not in full control of the vehicle. Maybe they were driving too closely. Your attorney will investigate the crash and get to the bottom of the situation.

They won’t only rely on your account of what happened. They’ll look for eyewitnesses, photos, surveillance videos, dashcam footage, and other potential sources of evidence. In some cases, they may retain an accident reconstruction expert to help prove what really happened.

The Role of South Carolina’s Comparative Negligence Law

Liability doesn’t always rest with only one driver. Therefore, both you and another driver could share responsibility for the accident. Maybe the rear-driver was traveling too fast, but you didn’t notice the vehicle in front of you was stopping. If you were distracted and there’s evidence of this, you’ll have to share fault.

The driver of the lead vehicle may also be partly at fault. They may have:

  • Turned suddenly
  • Failed to signal that they were turning
  • Braked too quickly
  • Had a broken taillight and therefore been unable to warn you

Even if you were partly responsible, you may still be able to claim compensation, but the amount will be reduced.

More specifically, it will be reduced by your share of fault. This is in accordance with South Carolina’s comparative negligence law. Let’s say you were supposed to receive $30,000 in damages. However, you were deemed to be 25 percent at fault for the crash. Your award would be reduced by 25 percent or $7, 500. Therefore, you would only get $22,500.

It’s important to note that if you were 50 percent or more responsible, you won’t be able to claim compensation. As a result, one of the drivers may try to pin the majority of the blame on you so they won’t have to compensate you. Your attorney will have to prove that you were not primarily responsible for what happened. They will also have to show that someone else’s actions led to the chain collision.

Contact the Team at Hernandez & Cabra Today

If you were recently involved in a multi-vehicle crash, you need to hire a South Carolina auto accident attorney. It can be more difficult to determine liability in cases like these and you need to give yourself the opportunity to get fair compensation. You may not understand all the elements involved but the lawyers at Hernandez & Cabra do. We’ll investigate, gather evidence, and do everything possible to get you the compensation you deserve. If you were not primarily at fault for the accident, you shouldn’t have to bear your losses alone. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and get an expert legal opinion on your case. We’ll answer your questions and provide you with the guidance you need.