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Three Car Accident, Domino Effect

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  1. Jan 25, 2012 #1
    My mom and I were involved in a 3 car accident. We were the middle car. The car in front of us had come to a complete stop in bumper to bumper traffic. We made a sudden stop but stopped completely. Seconds later the car from behind us hit us with great force sending us into the car in front of us. Our car had the most damage, totaling the car, while the car in front of us had the second most damage. The car in the back may have had minor cosmetic damage but no severe damage to her front bumper. The driver in the back is claiming that we hit the car in front of us before she plowed into us. Due to the physical evidence and damage of all three vehicles the insurance company seems to be baffled by the fact that the car in the back has no serious damage while our car is totaled. How is this physically possible? I am baffled myself but know for certain that our vehicle was stopped and that there was one severe impact from the car behind us. As of right now it seems like they are assuming that we were at fault.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 25, 2012 #2

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    i think thats tough to resolve. If the first car said they only felt one impact then that might be enough to help the insurance company decide. Modern cars tend to crumple on impact as part of the safety features for the passengers so it makes sense that your car got the most damage. What did the police report say? That is considered definitive for insurance claims.

    What kind of vehicles were each car? Size and style can make a big difference in how the cars get damaged. I once hit a small car at a stop light. The light turned green the small car went forward trying to make a quick left turn and then stopped abruptly when it couldn't (three lanes of traffic). I started up thinking they were going forward and hit them with my jeep. I got a bent bumper but their car rear got crushed in.
     
  4. Jan 25, 2012 #3
    I have not seen the full police report personally. I know that the driver behind us was cited for the accident. She was 18 driving a Chevy Cavalier. I really wish I knew how fast she was going when she crashed into us because it felt like we got hit with a ton of bricks. I was driving a Honda Civic. The car in front of me was driving a Jeep Cherokee.
     
  5. Jan 25, 2012 #4

    jedishrfu

    Staff: Mentor

    so the heaviest was the Jeep Cherokee at 3300lb and your car and the girls car was at 2400lb (avg wt from wikipedia article on cars). So the 1st car didn't move as much when it got hit. You could probably work out the physics of what was involved using the weights above and the road speed.

    Her speed was probably the speed limit of the road plus a few miles more. The problem was she didn't react quick enough with the brakes or she might have hit the accelerator
    if it was say a manual transmission. I make this mistake from time to time when driving my wife's automatic as I tend to use the right foot to accel and the left to disengage the clutch for coasting and before braking but on an automatic my left is placed near the brake so we stop real fast sometimes too fast for anyone in the car.

    If she was cited then the insurance company should go with that and you should argue it that way. Don't let them charge you with an accident you didn't cause. In general in accidents if you rear-end someone you're at fault no matter what because you're supposed to keep a safe distance. The police probably based it on skid marks on the road for the first car and based on the road speed.
     
  6. Jan 25, 2012 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    There are professional accident reconstructors. They can give you a much more accurate picture of what happened than a bunch of guys on the internet who don't have access to pictures and reports.
     
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