Who Is at Fault in a Chain Reaction Accident?

A chain-reaction car accident is a multi-vehicle crash that usually occurs when one driver collides with another and begins a cascade of subsequent accidents. Wrecks like this can involve as few as three or as many as dozens of vehicles. They often cause huge amounts of property damage and catastrophic injuries.

In a typical car accident, a victim can file an insurance claim or lawsuit against the person whose negligence caused their injuries. A settlement or verdict can help compensate them for their medical bills, expenses, and other damages related to the accident. Victims injured in a chain reaction accident can do this, too, but it is often more difficult to determine responsibility in these types of accidents. As a result, recovering compensation for damages can be complicated.

An experienced car accident attorney knows how to determine what happened in a chain reaction accident and who should be responsible for the damages. Strong legal representation can also protect you from being blamed for an accident you did not cause. 

Chain Reaction Accident Basics

A chain reaction accident can occur in many ways. These collisions commonly occur in dense traffic or when weather conditions make roads slippery. 

A typical example of a chain reaction accident looks like this:

Car A rear-ends Car B at a red light, which sends Car B into the back of Car C. 

More complications arise if additional drivers are involved:

Car C is pushed into the intersection, where cross-traffic is lawfully proceeding. Car D, traveling with the green light, cannot avoid Car C and collides with the front passenger side. The car following Car D through the green light, Car E, is traveling too fast for the conditions, and it impacts both Car C and Car D while they are stopped in the intersection. 

Determining who is at fault depends on what each driver was doing when they crashed. Multiple people might share responsibility if more than one driver’s negligence contributed to the collision. In that case, Michigan’s comparative negligence statute will apply. Shared liability could reduce any potential settlements according to each driver’s relative fault. 

How Is Liability Assigned?

In the previous example, Car A could have rear-ended Car B because their phone distracted them from the road. The force of that impact sent Car B into Car C. Therefore, the drivers of Cars B and C could file claims against the driver of Car A for damages. But what if Car B was following too closely and did not leave a reasonable amount of distance when it stopped at the intersection? Some liability may fall onto the driver of Car B for Car C’s injuries. The drivers of Cars D and E may also share some liability if they failed to take reasonable precautions to avoid contributing to the collision.

Understanding each driver’s actions is crucial for determining who is responsible for damages in a chain reaction accident. A skilled car accident attorney will gather and examine all available information to figure this out.

Determining what happened in a chain reaction accident is done with the help of:

  • Witness testimony.
  • Police reports.
  • Physical evidence like tire marks.
  • Private security and public traffic camera footage.
  • Vehicle damage.
  • Crash scene reconstruction.

Damages in a Chain Reaction Accident

The harm caused by a chain reaction accident can ripple through a victim’s life, affecting their physical and emotional health, career, finances, and personal relationships. Because of this, there are two different categories of damages available to car accident victims: economic and non-economic damages. 

Economic damages include:

  • Medical bills for past and ongoing treatment.
  • The projected cost of future care.
  • Loss of wages and benefits.
  • Lost earning capacity for the future.
  • Property damage.

Non-economic damages include:

  • Physical pain and suffering.
  • Mental and emotional anguish.
  • Physical impairment.
  • Disfigurement. 
  • Permanent disability.
  • Loss of consortium (the relationship between spouses).

Economic damages have a clear dollar value, making them easier to calculate. Non-economic damages are compensation for losses that do not necessarily have a price measured in money, which makes them much more subjective. Recovering both types of damages is crucial for getting the compensation you rightfully deserve from the person or parties responsible for your accident. You may be able to recover from more than one source. A chain reaction accident lawyer can help determine the total value of your case from all potentially liable parties. 

Contact a Detroit Car Accident Attorney Today

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a chain reaction collision, you can benefit from experienced legal representation. Compensation for damages is available, but there is a time limit to pursuing legal action against the negligent party in Michigan. The car accident attorneys of Sommers Schwartz can help you determine what caused your chain reaction accident and help get you the money you deserve. 

To speak with a Sommers Schwartz attorney about your rights after an accident, call 800-783-0989 for a free consultation.

A Trusted Authority

Our attorneys have been featured on local and national media outlets, including:


A Client’s Gratitude

Thank you, Andy Dragovic and Annette DeCoste, for your professionalism and dedication to me and my malpractice claim. Andy’s confident and caring personality assured me that I chose the right firm to help me fight and get through one of the most difficult times of my life.

A Client With a Wrongful Death Case

My family and I would like to thank Matt Turner, Mickey McCullough, Janice Koehler, and your entire law firm for your dedication to my wife’s wrongful death case. We realize that we had the best law firm to successfully help us. We appreciate the obviously hard work and the efforts…

Praise for Albert Asciutto

Shout out to Albert Asciutto for being a fantastic attorney & walking me through the entire process of fighting for my wages! He made the process quick and easy. In the end we won the case!! Thank you again for taking my case on, you are awesome! I would absolutely…

Praise for Jesse Young and Alana Karbal

Alana Karbal and Jesse Young did an excellent job fighting a giant for my wages. They pushed me to get what they needed from me and were amazing at communicating with me at all times. I won my arbitration and was so excited when I got more than what I…

Praise for Wage & Overtime Pay Attorney Jesse Young

Jesse Young worked an employment case for me that ended with almost 700 people getting their unpaid wages back. He and his team are incredible. From the first communication to the last, they never missed a single beat – consistent and clear communication, quickly replying to my communication, and always making…

A Client’s Gratitude for Tad Roumayah

Tad, I want to express my sincere gratitude for your unrelenting advocacy on my behalf throughout this process. It’s a shame that this sort of thing is still happening to new moms in 2023 and at an institution that prides itself on diversity, equity, and inclusion, no less. Knowing there…

Comments about Matthew Curtis from an Appreciative Client

Your efforts have changed my life, Matt. I’m forever grateful. My wife has tons of upcoming medical expenses, and we had both been working hard to make ends meet. I can’t thank you and your staff enough.

Praise for Lisa Esser-Weidenfeller and Matthew Curtis

I am writing to express my sincere gratitude for your hard work and dedication in handling my case. I appreciate your professionalism, your compassion, and your perseverance throughout this challenging process. You have gone above and beyond to protect my rights, to defend my interests, and to secure a favorable…

Our Clients Say It Best

70 5-star reviews on Google