A Guide to Determining Fault in Chain Reaction Crashes in Illinois

Chain reaction crashes, or pile-ups are collisions that involve at least three motor vehicles. There are different types of chain reaction crashes. In one scenario, a car hits the vehicle in front of them causing that vehicle to hit the vehicle in front of them.

Another scenario involves a car striking the car in front of them, and then a car traveling behind the first two vehicles striking the cars that were involved in the first crash because the last car was either following too closely or speeding and cannot stop in time to avoid striking the cars after the first impact. In some pileups, there are many vehicles that continue to strike the cars in front of them.

When so many drivers are involved, there are often questions regarding liability. The driver who caused the first crash will be liable, but whether other drivers will be liable as well depends on how the collision occurred. If the vehicle that caused the accident pushed a vehicle into another vehicle, then the liability will potentially fall entirely on the person who caused the first crash. When other vehicles hit vehicles that were involved in car crashes because they were speeding or following too closely, then the liability will likely be divided between all the drivers who contributed to the accident.

Determining liability depends on determining which drivers were negligent. A driver might have been negligent because he or she was following too closely, was speeding, was distracted, or did not have brake lights. Public agencies may also share in the lability in some instances if the road is missing traffic signals, or the road has debris on it that should have been cleared by the agency.

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