Multi-Vehicle Accident: What Do I Do After An Auto Collision?

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Auto accidents are bad enough without complications. Even small accidents mean a big headache: dealing with insurance adjusters, scheduling estimates, and trying to navigate the rental car maze. When injuries are involved, things become even worse, as doctor visits and therapy appointments start to interfere with the activities of daily life.

In a more complex accident involving multiple vehicles, the difficulties multiply exponentially. Now, there are three or more insurance companies to deal with, the possibility of numerous passengers, and much more opportunity for confusion. Even police responding to a multi-vehicle accident may have difficulty determining what happened and who is responsible.

Sandwich accidents
Sometimes, multi-vehicle accidents happen when one vehicle rear-ends another with enough force to propel it into the next vehicle. This is most common at intersections, where vehicles are stopped close together, presenting a prime target for an inattentive driver. These accidents often referred to as “chain reactions” or “sandwich” accidents, can easily total the vehicles in the middle because they cause damage to both the front and the back. In many cases, external and visible damage may be much greater in the front than in the back since that is where the momentum of both vehicles is finally arrested. The occupants of the center vehicle (or vehicles) suffer the greatest injuries since they have to deal with the whiplash of a rear-end accident along with the blunt force of a head-on collision. In many cases, the airbags can even deploy, causing burns and contusions.

If you were the driver in the center of a “sandwich” collision, be aware that the insurance company may try to pin part of the responsibility on you. For example, they may ask the passengers in the leading car whether they felt two impacts or one. The purpose of this question is to take advantage of a victim’s poor recall of past events. In almost ‘sandwich” accidents, passengers in the leading vehicle will hear two collisions and can be easily led to believe they felt two separate collisions.


If successful, this tactic allows the insurance company to claim you rear-ended the leading vehicle first, rather than being pushed into it. For this reason, as well as many others, it is important that you avoid speaking to insurance companies before you have consulted an attorney. Giving a recorded statement or writing down your account can be used against you. If a multi-vehicle accident was really attributable to just a single at-fault driver, your attorney might be able to represent all injured parties, saving time and expense. However, giving a recorded statement may make it impossible to claim this advantage.

Major highway collisions
More serious accidents, or pile-ups, often occur at highway speeds when a single driver’s error causes a collision with multiple other vehicles. Often at highway speeds, a single miscalculation, lapse of concentration, or improper merge can send a vehicle careening uncontrollably. In such cases, one vehicle plows into another, frequently causing that driver to lose control and strike two or more additional vehicles. Within moments, the chain reaction spreads across the highway, cutting a path of burned rubber, twisted metal, and shattered lives.

At first glance, such a mess may seem impossible to figure out. Even if one driver can ultimately be shown to be at fault, it is unlikely that his or her insurance carries enough coverage to pay for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage and millions in personal injury. However, an experienced serious car accident attorney can figure out the sequence of events and help victims find coverage for their injuries. In many cases, turning to a plaintiff’s own auto policy for uninsured motorist coverage is the best way to ensure that medical bills can be paid and losses are fully compensated.


Photo by RayBay on Unsplash
Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Author Bio

Louis W. Grande is a Providence personal injury lawyer who founded his Rhode Island law firm of the same name in 2010. With more than 32 years of experience practicing law, he has successfully represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including car accidents, premise liability, dog bites, medical malpractice, product liability, and other personal injury actions.

Louis received his Juris Doctor from the Hamline University School of Law and is a member of the Rhode Island Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being awarded Lifetime Achievement in 2017 by America’s Top 100 Attorneys and being named among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers and Top 25 Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers in 2017.

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