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The very first thing to remember is that this is a very bad experience and not something to actively look forward to. However, one must understand it is better to be educated about it before hand. It has happened to me, and it made me realize that there are great many things that the general public simply doesn't know about 3-or-more-car pile-ups.

So here it is...

Disclaimer: The write-up is intended to give guidance to those unfortunate enough to end up in a similar situation. By no means is it intended to be an exhaustive reference. The author is not responsible if state or federal authorities come after you. This write-up assumes that you are in the US since laws in other countries can be dramatically different (read: not prone to exploits). The reader assumes all responsibility for his/her actions.

1. Prerequisites

  • You must survive the crash.
  • You must have liability insurance. Note: unlike the first prerequisite it is still possible for you to learn a lot by reading this even if you have full coverage on your vehicle.
  • You must not be in the first or the last car involved. Being in the first car you don't need to worry about anything -- you will be compensated (more on that later). Being in the last car you might as well not read the rest of it since it will be no use to you. You will not be compensated. End of story.

2. Course of Action

Keep this in mind: pick one story and stick to it. You will most probably be recorded when making a statement for the insurance company. Whatever you say immediately at the site will also go into your police report. Courtroom is another place where they might ask you a few questions about the whole ordeal. Avoid having to explain why several of your statements are not consistent with each other. It is entirely possible that you will end up in the situation where your stories will have nothing in common. In this case, you must claim amnesia or repressed memories. (Personal note: it worked in my case, but individual results may vary.)

The state law states that no matter how fast you brake, the person who hits you from behind is at fault since he/she was following too closely. Thus the driver of the first car in the pile-up will never be at fault. We have already established that your car is not at the end of the pile-up, so it will be hit in both front and back. So what follows is that your back end will be covered by the driver behind you. (He was following too closely as well.) But what about the front end?

Before I answer that question lets review the entire crash as a timeline.

  • Event 1: The person in front of you brakes suddenly. So having the impaired reaction time that you do, you smack right into their back end.
  • Event 2: The person behind you smacks right into your back end. The time elapsed between Event 1 and Event 2 will not in most cases exceed several seconds. Split second is what most people observe.
  • Event 3: Depending on the number of cars involved, cars will continue running into back ends of cars directly in front of them.

This is by far the most common pile-up scenario, and it probably occurs in 99% of all cases. The problem with it is that the cost of repair for your front end would come out of your own pocket. Once again, but what about my front end?

Well, there is always that pesky 1%! So read and learn.

  • Event 1: The person in front of you brakes. So having the unbelievable, superhuman reaction time that you do you slam on your brakes and come to a complete stop within inches from the car in front.
  • Event 2: The person behind you smacks right into your back end. The time elapsed between event 1 and event 2 will not in most cases exceed several seconds. Split second is what most people observe.
  • Event 3: After your back end is impacted you are literally thrown into the car in front of you. Your front end finally comes with in contact with the car in front of you.
  • Event 4: You get the point.

As you can see, in this one percent of cases the person behind you is to blame for both front and back end damage to your vehicle. You, my friend, are set!

3. How is this possible?

First, that 1% of all cases actually does occur in real life. You can easily increase the chances of it occuring to 100% by shamelessly lying. Second, other passengers' experiences would be nearly identical in both timelines. The driver behind you cannot know whether your front end has been wrecked. The order of two impacts will be different for you, but since you are the only one having experienced both impacts other drivers' statements will have no bearing on your story. Third, even though you are violating the law by making false statements, you are not violating any laws of physics which would make your story impossible. Fourth, it has been done successfully!

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