multi car pile up motorway claim

Proving Legal Liability For A Multi-Car Pile-Up Due To A Car Changing Lanes

Using a M25 multi-car pile-up site visitor question – we explain how to establish legal fault for a motorway pile-up caused by a car changing lanes and braking heavily.

Motorway multi-car pile-up accident question

I was travelling along the M25 London Orbital ring road gently overtaking cars in the middle lane when a car in the outer lane rapidly overtook me and then moved sharply into my lane – only a few metres in front of me and then slammed on the brakes. This car did not give me enough space or time to react such that I collided with the rear of his vehicle and I in turn was hit from behind by another vehicle.

There were only 3 cars involved in the multi-car pile-up accident – the motorway was blocked off as a result and the police and ambulance called. I was taken to hospital and was diagnosed with a broken wrist and whiplash to the neck and shoulders and later PTSD.

I reported the accident to my motor insurer who contacted the third-party insurer. I believe the third-party is suggesting that my car damage claim should be settled on a 50 / 50 basis.

I do not believe that I am in any way responsible for this accident.

Can I claim 100 per cent of my compensation for my vehicle damage and personal injuries in a multi-car pile-up?

Motorway road accident solicitor response

Why the driver changing lane seems at fault for the multi-car pile-up

From the facts you have described appears that the lead vehicle primarily initiated the accident – such that you did not have time to stop when the lead vehicle slammed on.

The Highway Code indicates that the outer lane should only be used for overtaking and the a car using that lane should return to the inner lanes only when it is safe to do so.

Clearly a driver should keep a safe distance on the motorway, but if another driver pulls closely in front of you suddenly and brakes sharply – which appears to be the case here – you should not be held liable when the distance allowed was not within the safe braking distance.

Liability of the vehicle that collided with your rear in the pile-up

The vehicle which collided with the back of your car may bear responsibility for hitting you as a result of not driving at a safe braking distance. Alternatively, that driver might argue that the lead driver was responsible.

The difficulty with different driver descriptions in multi-car pile-ups

The difficulty in a motorway multi-car pile-up is the evidence available to support the true version of events.

Watch out – following a road accident a driver might change his story as to what happened or deny the true accident events.

It might be the case that the lead third-party driver suggests that the accident was your fault. It may be The third-party may argue that the lane change manoeuvre had been completed when you were at a safe distance and had been established in the lane before having to brake.

Alternatively, the third-party might assert that he was in the middle lane already and you moved to the lane behind him not keeping a safe distance and allowing yourself sufficient time to respond.

Independent witness evidence

In the event of a motorway multi-car pile-up – there are typically a number of independent witnesses that the police should have obtained details from when they attended at the accident scene.

These witnesses could verify exactly how the collision was initiated.

motorway car crash pile up
Motorway Car Crash Pile Up

The police report

Your solicitor should obtain a copy of the police report, which should set out all of the details accident scene, including measurements of skid marks, witness details, evidence and statements from all the drivers involved in the accident.

Dash cameras and CCTV

You or other drivers involved in the accident or from other motorway users – may have a car dash camera – visually recording how the multi-car pile-up occurred.

Alternatively, the section of the M25 motorway may have CCTV cameras that your solicitor could access.

Should you settle your claim on a 50:50 basis?

So long as your version of events can be proved – you should not settle your vehicle damage claim on a 50:50 basis. A 50:50 settlement effectively means that the accident was as much your fault as it was the third-party driver’s fault, which clearly is not the case in this instance.

To prove your claim – you will need the help of a specialist solicitor.

Watch out – if there is no independent evidence and the police report is ambiguous as to how the accident happened, it might be that practically you will have to consider a 50:50 claim. The burden of proof is on you as the Claimant to prove all aspects of your claim and for this you need evidence to support you.

We are happy to speak to you regarding your accident and how to proceed with a claim.

We offer a number of specialist solicitor free help options – available online and by direct dial telephone calls.