Facebook View
Skip to main content
Recent Blog Post

In A Multi-Vehicle Accident Who Is Held Liable?

Home > Blog > In A Multi-Vehicle Accident Who Is Held Liable?

The damage resulting from a multi-vehicle accident is usually serious, whether it be personal injury or property. Finding out who is at fault for your car accident is imperative as the negligent driver needs to be held accountable. 

Multi-vehicle accidents tend to be quite complex due to the number of drivers and insurance companies involved. Many scenarios could cause this type of accident, and the at-fault party may not always be who you would think.

Have you or a family member recently been involved in a multi-vehicle accident? If so, the experienced attorneys at HawkLaw, P.A. are ready to help litigate your accident claim and negotiate on your behalf. Call our law firm today at 888-HAWKLAW to speak to a member of our legal team and schedule a free consultation* with a car accident lawyer.

What is Considered a Multi-Vehicle Accident? 

A multi-vehicle accident is a collision that involves no less than three drivers. This type of crash is often described as a “chain reaction accident” or “car pile-up”.  Chain reaction crashes can be dangerous and lead to serious injury or wrongful death.

These crashes are typically triggered after one driver rear-ends the car in front of them, and the second car experiences a force that pushes them to crash into a third vehicle in front of them, and so on. Some of the biggest multi-vehicle accidents in U.S. history have involved more than 200 vehicles. However, sometimes a middle car or the one in the front could actually cause a massive crash, depending on their driving behaviors and/or other circumstances.

Sadly, South Carolina is no stranger to multi-vehicle accidents. It is common to hear of frequent reports across state news outlets where these crashes lead to injury and death, such as one tragic accident occurring last summer that involved six cars, leaving three people dead and causing injuries for eight others.

Considering the fact that major roadways, such as I-95, I-77, I-26, and other primary roads, pass through the state, the high speeds involved can be deadly, especially when multiple cars are involved, leaving numerous victims injured or worse.

What Are The Common Types of Multi-Car Accidents?

Pile-up crashes can occur in a variety of scenarios, and this type of accident can get sticky very quickly from a legal perspective when attempting to determine fault. The most common causes of multi-car accidents occur from rear collisions, sideswiping, side impact, and driving head-on into oncoming traffic

In rear-end collisions, it is common for the car at the end of the chain to be faulted, but this may not be the case. If other drivers were not obeying traffic laws or acting in a negligent fashion, these factors are also contributors, and blame may be shared. An experienced car accident attorney who is well-versed in South Carolina motor vehicle accident law can help injury victims in the aftermath of a multi-vehicle collision.

What Are Common Causes of Multi-Car Accidents?

Human behaviors are often at the root of multi-car accidents. Common causes of multi-vehicle crashes include speeding, intoxication, weather conditions, and distracted drivers.


Drivers exceeding road speed limits and not keeping a safe distance from the driver in front of them can hit another slower-driving car. In busy highway conditions, chances are another car is right behind them, which instantly becomes a chain reaction crash. Due to speed, drivers have no time to react to avoid a collision.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has unfortunately become very prevalent. In 2020, more than 3,100 fatalities occurred in the U.S. due to drivers not paying careful attention when operating a motor vehicle. Texting, dialing, GPS, web surfing, eating/drinking, and adjusting music or other settings can all take a driver’s eyes off the road.


intoxicated driver on the highway at night

Using drugs (even some prescription drugs) or alcohol and then getting behind the wheel is a recipe for disaster. Impairment directly impacts a driver’s good judgment for safe driving practices. Sadly, multi-car crashes are commonplace when impaired motorists are driving erratically or too fast, causing traffic accidents.

Weather Conditions

Many highway pileups occur when adverse weather conditions are present. In the north, you typically hear of major multi-vehicle car accidents due to snow squalls. That is less of a problem here in South Carolina, but when ice or snow occurs, it can bring roadway activities to a standstill. Other adverse weather conditions common in our state include rain, fog, and smoke, all of which can directly create poor visibility factors and lead to crashes.

Other common causes of multi-vehicle auto accidents include problematic road conditions (e.g., potholes, poor signage, etc.), reckless or aggressive driving, tailgating, drowsy driving, vehicle malfunction, and rubber-necking. Unfortunately, all of these and other irresponsible behaviors lead to injured people, or worse, cause fatalities.

Who is at Fault in a Chain Reaction Vehicle Accident in South Carolina?

Due to South Carolina’s modified comparative negligence law, it is important to ascertain who is responsible for a multi-vehicle crash. Under this law, plaintiffs are only eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit if they are deemed to be less than 51% responsible for the collision.

  • Pile-up accidents typically are difficult to ascertain blame.
  • Under South Carolina law, the driver with 51% or more fault of the accident is liable for the crash.
  • The amount of fault a plaintiff has reduces the amount of damage the at-fault party is responsible for paying.
  • Multiple parties may be at fault for the crash.

Remember, as a multi-vehicle accident victim, you can pursue compensation as long as you are found to be less than 50% at fault for the accident. If you have a 51% or a higher percentage of fault, this directly impacts your ability to collect compensation from the other drivers.

Do I Need an Attorney If I Am Involved in a Multi-Car Collison? 

Working with an attorney who has experience with multi-vehicle collisions can help better your chances of not being the primary party at fault since they can help get to the bottom of who truly was at fault. Insurance companies will either offer a terribly low settlement or try to shift the blame to you so that they do not have to pay compensation. Generally, you cannot trust insurance companies to work in your best interests. Your attorney will:

  • Investigate the crash, gather evidence, and contact eyewitnesses.
  • Examine details in the police report to help identify the at-fault driver.
  • Intervene with insurance companies and serve as a go-between so they cannot trick you into inadvertently admitting fault.
  • Help to identify the defendant(s) who can be held accountable for causing the multi-car crash.
  • Collect all documentation relating to any injuries you sustained, along with property damage.
  • File all relevant paperwork for an insurance claim or, if necessary, a personal injury lawsuit.
  • Present all evidence relating to the crash to get all the right information out in the open.
  • Provide sound legal advice about your injury claim to give you the best chance of success.

Keep in mind, other people involved in the accident will likely have attorneys by their side. You should not be the only one standing alone because the other parties will have experience on their side if the case ends up in court. Statistics suggest accident victims who hire a personal injury lawyer will get more compensation than those who do not, even after attorney fees are deducted.

Caught in a Multi-Vehicle Accident and Unsure of Your Next Steps?

Multi-car collisions are very complex in nature. Everyone is likely going to be pointing the finger at everyone else. Working with a knowledgeable South Carolina injury lawyer can better your chances of receiving compensation in your accident case. You also improve your chances of other motorists’ attorneys or insurance companies pinning the accident on you, as they do for so many others who do not work with an experienced attorney.

If you or a loved one were involved in a chain reaction crash, you do not have to feel helpless or alone. The caring and compassionate attorneys at HawkLaw are here for you every step of the way. HawkLaw Fights to Win. To obtain a free case evaluation,* call our phone number at 888-HAWKLAW. If you prefer, you can complete our online contact form. A member of our legal team will get right back to you.

Hawklaw, P.A. serves areas across the state of South Carolina, including Charleston, Columbia, Spartanburg, and Greenville.

John D. Hawkins

Founder and CEO

John Hawkins is the Founder and CEO of HawkLaw He has been licensed to practice law in South Carolina since his graduation with honors in 1994 from the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he was on the Law Review and Order of Wig and Robe.

Latest from Our Blog