Untangling legal liability for chain reaction collisions involving multiple vehicles can be complicated. There have been a couple of tragic examples in the news lately. Southbound I-77 was shut down recently where it merges with I-26 in Lexington County. A stalled car and several other vehicles were involved in the pileup. Several people were injured and taken to local hospitals. Also, in January 2018, three vehicles were involved in pileup Charleston at the intersection of Folly Road and Camp Road with eight people being injured.
The most common scenario for multiple vehicle accidents involves cars traveling in the same lane. Often, the vehicle furthest to the rear “starts” the pileup by rear-ending the “middle” car which then pushes the middle car into the lead car. If you have been involved in a multi-car pileup, you will need to retain skilled and proven Greenville SC auto accident attorneys. Untangling causation and fault takes dedication and experience. Here are a few facts to know.
South Carolina Law of Negligence
If you have been injured in a multi-car collision, you are entitled to sue the person — or persons — at fault under the laws of negligence.
In essence, when you make a claim for negligence you are alleging that the wrongdoer has been careless or reckless. Negligence requires proof of four elements: duty, breach, causation, and injury. Under South Carolina law, every driver has a duty to be reasonably careful while driving in order to avoid injuring others on the roads and highways. Among those duties is a responsibility to keep a proper distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you. The “proper distance” is variable and depends on the road and weather conditions. It almost always a breach of the duty of care to rear-end the car in front of you. Therefore it is often the rear vehicle that is “at fault” in multi-car pileups.
Joint Tortfeasors in South Carolina
However, in a multi-car collision, there may be more than one driver at fault. In such a scenario, South Carolina law requires the judge or jury to determine the percentage of fault for each party that bears responsibility for the collision.. See S.C. Code, § 15-38-15. For example, a jury might find that the rear car is 70 percent at fault and the middle car is 30 percent at fault because the middle car was also following too close to the “lead” car.
There is also the possibility that the driver of the “lead” vehicle was partly at fault. The driver of the “lead” vehicle might be apportioned some fault under these circumstances:
- Failed to use a turn signal to warn the “middle” car of an impending turn
- Having broken tail lights — thus, no warning for a turn or for braking
- Braked too quickly under the road and weather conditions — may be that driver was actually following too close to the vehicle ahead of him/her
- Sudden turns or movement
With multi-car collisions, there are often multiple defendants sued by the victim(s).
Greenville SC Car Accident Attorneys: Call David R. Price, Jr. P.A. Today
As shown above, figuring out who is at fault and who is the legally responsible liability is complicated and requires attention to detail and a knack for sifting through the details of what happened. If you have been injured in a multi-car collision, you should contact the Greenville SC car accident and personal injury lawyers at David R. Price, Jr., P.A. Contact our office today via email or by calling directly.