Who Is Liable In A Multi-Car Pile-Up?

By Danielle Nicholson. Last Updated 6th October 2022. Proving who is liable in a multi-car pile-up can be complicated. A multi-car pile-up means a road traffic accident that consists of multiple vehicles. These are very often associated with motorways as if there is an accident up ahead as people start to slow down vehicles can either not stop in time or have failed to notice any stopping at all. In some instances, the liability may be ‘split’ between two or more parties.

Who is liable in a multi-car pile up guide

Who is liable in a multi-car pile up guide

When you are injured in a multi-car pile-up, proving who is responsible can be challenging. In the sections below, you will find out more about liability in a multi-car pile-up. We explain how you could be entitled to claim personal injury compensation even if you are partially at fault for the accident.

We have included a table showing how much a successful injury claim could be awarded in compensation, and how you could seek general and special damages. Moreover, you will find information on the type of injuries you could suffer in a car accident which includes whiplash.

If you are wondering how to prove who could be liable in a multi-car pile-up, please click on the sections below. If you need to speak to an adviser about starting a car accident claim, please call a member of our team on 0161 696 9685.

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A Guide On Who Is Liable In A Multi-Car Pile-Up

In our guide, you will find information on how liability is established in multi-car accidents. You will also find advice on what to do if you are the victim of a ‘crash-for-cash’ scam. We explain the importance of finding the right personal injury lawyer to represent you if you want legal help. Moreover, we explain how a No Win No Fee agreement or as it is more formally known as a Conditional Fee Agreement CFA can be used as a way of funding your solicitor.

You may be looking for a personal injury compensation calculator to get an estimate of what you may be able to claim. However, these do not take all aspects of your claims into consideration. For that reason, we have shown a different approach as you will see below. The figures used in our table are taken from the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This is a document that shows what has been awarded in past cases.

If you have any questions about claiming compensation following a multi-car pile, please get in touch with a member of our team. One of our expert advisers will review your case in a no-obligation consultation free of charge.

Car Crash Compensation Payouts In The UK

If you suffered an injury in a multi vehicle crash, you might be interested to learn about car crash compensation payouts. In this section, we look at the different heads that could form your personal injury compensation in a successful claim.

Firstly, you’ll claim for your pain and suffering under general damages. While we can’t provide an exact figure due to the various elements that make up multiple vehicle accident claims, we can provide figures from the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG).

This document contains rough guideline figures for injuries. Our table is made up of figures from the April 2022 updated version.

Type of injury sufferedPotential compensation awarded in general damages taken from the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG)Notes
Moderate injuries to a leg (iv)£27,760 to £39,200Claimant suffers serious crushing injuries to one limb or could suffer multiple fractures in this bracket. The amount awarded will be based on treatment required, the chance a claimant may need further surgery, and the effect the injury has on the claimant’s life
Moderate injuries to the pelvis or hip (i)£26,590 to £39,170The claimant suffers significant damage but is not left with a major disability. The risk of further damage at a later date is deemed minimal
Injuries to the wrist (b)£24,500 to £39,170The claimant suffers significant damage to the wrist which results in a permanent disability. However, some movement in the wrist is retained
Moderate injury to the neck (i)£24,990 to
A claimant could have suffered fractures or dislocations resulting in serious pain. Claimants may need to undergo spinal fusion. Other types of injuries included in this category are soft tissue damage that impacts a claimant’s back and neck
Moderate injury to the back (ii)£12,510 to £27,760A claimant may suffer ligament damage which results in backache as well as other pain/discomfort associated with damage to the back. The compensation payout awarded will depend on the seriousness of the injury and how the claimant’s life is impacted
Forearm fractures £6,610 to £19,200Claimant suffers a simple fracture to their forearm/s
Moderate injury to a shoulder (c) £7,890 to £12,770

A claimant could suffer injuries like a frozen shoulder which could limit their mobility for up to 2 years. Other injuries which are included in this bracket involve soft tissue damage where the symptoms lessen over a period of 2 years and where an injury is not permanent
Fractured clavicle £5,150 to £12,240The compensation payout will depend on the seriousness of a fracture. Another consideration is the level of disability a claimant suffers and whether there are any ongoing symptoms

Some personal injury claims may have a second head called special damages. This can help claimants recover costs directly related to the injury. To recover costs, you must be able to prove them. For example, if you found yourself out of work due to injuries after a multiple vehicle accident, you could recover loss of earnings with your wage slips. Repair costs for any damaged property could be recovered using receipts or invoices. Any medical expenses, such as therapy costs, could also be recovered.

As stated above, every claim is different. For a personalised estimate of your claim, we recommend getting in touch with one of our advisors.

Types Of Multi-Car Pile-Up Injury Damages

As mentioned in the previous section, you will be awarded general damages and special damages when you win a claim. You are paid special damages to reimburse your losses and expenses, otherwise referred to as ‘out of pocket’ expenses.

The losses and expenses you could include in a successful claim against a responsible party include:

  • Money to cover the cost of repairing a vehicle
  • The cost of having to replace a vehicle
  • The cost of the car insurance excess you had to payout
  • Medical expenses (prescription costs, medical aids, private treatment/therapy)
  • Travel costs (the cost of getting to hospital and solicitor appointments, parking fees)
  • Care costs (if you need assistance at home with daily chores during your recovery, whether a family member, friend or paid carer takes care of you)
  • Loss of earnings for the time you are unable to work and bring in a normal wage
  • Lost future income if you are unable to work again due to the severity of your injuries
  • Home and vehicle adaptations

How do whiplash reforms affect a claim?

The Whiplash Reforms (Civil Liability Act 2018 and the Whiplash Injury Regulations) were implemented on 31st May 2021 in England and Wales. Passengers and drivers in road traffic accidents must now make their personal injury claims in a different way. The reforms now mean if your injury is in the region of  £1,000 to £5,000 you would claim using the Governments portal. You can claim a further £5000 for losses and expenses. This means if your injury is valued at less than £5,000 the liable party no longer has to pay the claimants ‘reasonable’ legal fees.

Prior to the reforms that came into effect in May, the party responsible had to pay part of your legal fees as well as the compensation payout for injuries, suffering, and out of pocket expenses on claims.

Now the Government along with the Motor Insurers Bureau have set up a portal so that claimants can make their own personal injury claims after a road traffic accident.

To discuss average payouts for a multi-car pile-up injury claim, please get in touch with an adviser today. A member of our team will provide free advice and will assess whether you have good reason to pursue a claim against a party you believe responsible

What Is A Multi-Car Pile-Up?

A multiple-car pile-up is an accident where several vehicles crash into each other. It is the type of road traffic accident that happens on motorways and dual carriageways. This is mainly due to high speeds and traffic volumes.

Multi-car pile-ups are among the most dangerous accidents which result in serious injury. Over 100 vehicles were in a pile-up in 2013 in Sheppey Kent, and more than 60 people suffered injuries in this pile-up.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-23970047

What Is Liability For A Multi-Car Accident?

Establishing liability in a multi-car accident can prove challenging. When a claim is straightforward and involves a rear-end collision, the driver responsible is the person who crashed into the car in front of them in most cases. The law requires that drivers must be paying ‘due care and attention’ and when they hit a car from behind, they are deemed at ‘fault’ if they did not leave enough stopping distance.

However, when you are involved in a multi-car pile-up, insurance providers and lawyers who represent the various parties involved would make their cases. If the accident involves any fatalities, a coroner may also be involved in the process. Furthermore, the Police would be involved more especially when the pile-up is serious. As such, the Police may determine who is at fault and therefore, liable for the pile-up.

How Is Fault Determined In A Multi-Car Accident

Motorists should leave a minimum of a 2-second stopping distance from the car in front (Rule 126 of the Highway Code). When a driver follows too closely (tailgating), they run the risk of crashing into the car they are following and would be deemed ‘at fault’.

Some frequently asked questions regarding multi-car road traffic accidents include:

  • 3 car accident who pays
  • How does insurance work in a pile-up

It will highly depend on how the pile-up has occurred to who may be at fault. Not one size fits all when it come to multi-car pile-ups. It is a case of the insurance or police investigating the matter and coming to a conclusion. If the pile-up is not very serious a solicitor may very well complete their own investigations. When a multi-car pile-up happens due to poor road conditions liability may fall to the Highways Agency or Local Councils depending on which road or highway it took place.

For more information on who could be liable for a multi-car pile-up, please get in touch with one of our expert advisers today.

How Do Multi-Car Pile-Ups Happen?

A multi-car pile-up can happen for a number of reasons. This includes:

  • Careless driving
  • Driving with undue care and attention
  • Speeding
  • Losing control of a vehicle
  • Adverse weather conditions
  • Poor road surfaces

Multi-Car Pile-Ups Caused By Poor Weather

Driving when the weather is bad presents an extra risk of being involved in a road traffic accident. Snow, ice, fog, and heavy rain are adverse weather conditions that can lead to a multi-car pile-up happening. More especially on motorways and dual carriageways.

Drivers are advised to reduce speed during adverse weather conditions. They should also increase the stopping distance between themselves and the vehicle in front. Reduced visibility when it is foggy often results in multi-car pile-ups.

If you were injured in a multi-car pile-up and would like to know if you can claim compensation for any injuries sustained, please get in touch with an adviser today.

Collisions Caused By Breaking Suddenly

Drivers should always leave enough braking distance between the vehicle they are driving and the vehicle in front. This is especially true when you are driving at speed. When the car in front brakes suddenly, you have enough time to react and space to come to a stop safely.

The recommended braking distances will depend on the speed you are travelling at. This together with the weather conditions will determine a safe braking distance. When travelling on a motorway, the recommended distance between cars is at least two chevrons.

When you are hit from behind (rear-end shunt), the driver who hits the car in front is typically liable. A rear-end shunt often results in people suffering whiplash.

For more information on multi-car pile-up injury claims, please reach out to a member of our team today. An experienced adviser will assess whether you have good reason to claim personal injury for the harm you have suffered.

Collisions Caused By Poor Vehicle Maintenance

When vehicles are poorly maintained, the risk of being involved in a road traffic accident increases. Brake failure, or a mechanical fault may lead to the vehicle causing an accident. It can lead to a multi-car pile-up.

Investigations will generally show up if the car previously had a fault that was not fixed. It is vital that vehicles are maintained to the correct standards. Car crashes can be fatal. Reducing the risk of accidents is part of the motorist’s duty of care.

Who Could Be At Liable In A Multi-Car Pile-Up?

When you are injured in a multi-car pile-up, part of your contract with your vehicle insurance will be to inform them if you are involved in a road accident. When it comes to proving liability, insurance companies will typically investigate the accident. If there are fatalities, the Police will determine who is responsible and a coroner may be involved too.

An investigation into a multi-car pile-up may establish that more than one driver bears the responsibility. If the accident was due to a poor road surface, liability may fall to a Highways Agency.

How Do Insurance Companies Decide Fault In A Road Accident?

Motorists in the UK must hold valid insurance, a failure to do so is an offence. If you hold a fully comprehensive policy, your vehicle repairs will be covered by your insurance provider if you are at fault. When your car is written off, a replacement will be provided or money to purchase a new car either by your insurance or the fault party’s insurance. However, if you are at fault your insurance premium may increase when the policy comes up for renewal. If you do not have comprehensive insurance you would have to cover your own repairs or replacement if you are at fault.

When you suffer injuries in a multi-car pile-up, you could claim compensation by making a personal injury claim against the parties found to be ‘at fault’. If you are at fault for the accident you would not be able to make a personal injury claim for harm suffered. That said, if you are only partially at fault you would still be able to claim a percentage of the compensation you would have got had you been 100% not at fault.

Establishing Split Liability In A Multi-Car Pile-Up

When more than one driver is found liable for a multi-car pile-up, a decision of ‘split liability’ will be made. You may find that you are held partly liable which could be established at 25% at fault. Another driver may be held 75% liable. Should this be the case, you would receive 75% of the compensation you would have been awarded if the other driver is 75% liable.

What Are Cash For Crash Scams?

Crash-for-cash is a scam involving fraudsters who deliberately cause a road traffic accident so they can claim compensation from an innocent party. An example of this type of scam is:

  • A driver intentionally brakes suddenly in front of you which results in you crashing into their vehicle

The driver of the car that rear-ends another vehicle is typically held ‘at fault’ which is why fraudsters use this technique.

If you believe you are the victim of a crash-for-cash scam, please contact a member of our team today. An experienced adviser will listen to your case in a no-obligation consultation that is free of charge. This will allow them to assess whether you were a victim of this type of car accident scam.

What To Do If You Suspect Being Involved In A Crash-For-Cash Scheme

When you think you have been targeted by fraudsters in a crash-for-cash scheme, you must call the Police straight away. You should also start collecting evidence to show you are not responsible for the car accident. This includes:

  • Speak to witnesses and ask them for the contact details.
  • Note down the number of people in the other car. A fraudster will often lie about how many passengers are in a vehicle so they can get a higher payout
  • Take photos of the other car
  • Take a photo of the other car’s registration (providing you feel safe doing so)
  • See if there are any CCTV cameras close by

To speak to a member of our team about crash-for-cash scams, please call the number at the top of the page.

How Do I Claim Compensation For Being Injured In A Multi-Car Accident?

You do not have to have a solicitor represent your case. However, this type of claim can be complex as there are several different parties involved. A specialist solicitor has the necessary legal expertise to deal with different insurance providers. They also respect pre-action protocols (PAPs) as well as time limits for starting a personal injury claim.

You must be able to prove you were not responsible for the accident, or that you were only partly responsible. This means collecting as much evidence as you can. The sort of proof needed to support a claim includes:

  • Get the Police report
  • Provide medical reports of everyone who was injured
  • Take photos of the scene of the accident together with all the vehicles involved
  • Make a note of the damage done to your vehicle – this can be photos taken on a smartphone
  • Exchange details with other drivers
  • Ask witnesses for the contact details
  • Contact a personal injury lawyer

Make A No Win No Fee Claim For A Multi-Car Pile-Up

You may be worried about the cost of legal representation which is putting you off claiming. We can review your claim and put you in touch with a lawyer who offers claimants No Win No Fee terms. This means you won’t have to worry about upfront or ongoing fees because you only pay when you win your claim.

The process of making a No Win No Fee claim is straightforward and involves:

  • Signing and returning a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) to the solicitor
  • Once the solicitor receives the signed No Win No Fee agreement, they can immediately start work on your claim

A Conditional Fee Agreement sets out the following:

  • The T&Cs of the agreement and what a solicitor will do for you
  • The percentage you pay, the ‘success fee’ which is capped
  • Should you lose your claim, you do not have to pay a No Win No Fee solicitor.

Contact Us

If you have any questions following a multi-car accident, please call one of our experienced advisers today. You can reach a member of our team by:

Related Car Accident Claim Guides

Links to useful external websites:

The Road Traffic Act 1988

Whiplash – An NHS Guide

Links to internal guides 

No Win No Fee personal injury success fees explained:

How success fees are calculated

Personal injury solicitor guide to claiming compensation:

Claiming compensation with help from a personal Injury solicitor

A guide to claiming for someone else:

Guide to claiming compensation on behalf of another person

Other Car Accident Claim Guides

Statistics On Car Accident Casualties

According to a report published by the Department for Transport in 2020 during the lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there was a reduction in road traffic. This had a knock-on effect on road accidents and they too saw a decrease in the previous year.

  • 1,472 reported deaths
  • 23,486 serious injuries estimated injuries decrease of 22%
  • 115,333 injuries of all levels of severity decrease of 25%
liable in a multi-car pile-up

Road accident statistics 2020 as compared to 2019 courtesy of the DfT

FAQs On Liability In Road Traffic Accidents

You will find the answers to several frequently asked questions about road traffic accidents.

Who is to blame in a 3 car pile-up?

In general, it is the car that crashes into the car in front that is liable. However, if the driver in the first car was driving recklessly, they could be found partly ‘at fault’. In a 3 car pile-up proving liability is more complicated.

How is fault determined in a multi-car accident?

The Police are typically called out to multi-car accidents and will provide a detailed report which could establish liability. Or an insurance company may make their own investigations.

How does insurance work for a car pile-up?

An investigation is made, your insurer could decide to cover your claim costs less the excess. However, this will vary.

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