You’ve probably seen news stories about multi-car pileups and huge crashes on local highways, like I-95, I-75, or the Sawgrass Expressway.
How do “chain reaction” car crashes occur, and how do the police determine who is responsible?
Chain reaction accidents occur when two or more cars are involved in a crash, typically bumper-to-bumper. Unfortunately, these multi-vehicle pileups too often result in serious injuries and complicated auto insurance claims.
Multi-car accidents typically occur when visibility is bad, especially in high traffic areas where there is nowhere for vehicles to go once they come upon a crash that they weren’t expecting to encounter. Our skilled car accident attorneys attest that chain reaction accidents can be extremely dangerous because they often result in serious injuries and can be complicated by vehicle fires and by difficulties in getting first-responders to survivors. It can also be hard to determine who is legally liable and who should be held responsible for the crash.
Fort Lauderdale multi-vehicle car accident attorney David Fuchs has more than two decades of experience and is dedicated to representing accident victims throughout Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade.
Causes of Multi-Vehicle Accidents
Chain reaction accidents can happen in any situation where two cars are involved and more vehicles proceed to hit the disabled vehicles, which may cause an untold number of secondary collisions. Low visibility is a major factor as the more difficult it is to see the road and the disabled vehicles, the more likely it is that a multi-car pileup will occur.
These crashes have a domino effect and they most often occur at traffic stops or on narrow roads with adjacent lanes of traffic. Here are a few scenarios in which a chain reaction accident happen:
- A driver comes into a lane of stopped traffic too fast. They run into the back of a stopped vehicle, and the force of the crash pushes the second car into the one ahead of it.
- A driver slams on their brakes unexpectedly, which forces the driver behind them into a rear-end collision. Another driver, who is traveling much faster than everyone else, hits the rear end of the rear driver’s car. A fourth driver fails to react to the crash and causes a pile-up.
Some of the factors that can contribute to chain reaction accidents include:
- Heavy rain
- Smoke due to fire including brush fires
- Poorly designed highways and road systems
In some cases, the Florida Highway Patrol or other state agencies can bear some responsibility for chain reaction accidents if their negligence contributed in some way to the crash. For example, if the state agency should have closed a road due to dangerous low visibility and failed to do so, then it can be considered partially responsible for causing the crash.
When a state agency shares the blame, then the case becomes very complicated. Government agencies enjoy limited protections from immunity and there are special rules and timelines for taking legal action against them. A Fort Lauderdale lawyer should be consulted for help with filing a claim after a mult-vehicle wreck.
Legal Liability in Chain Reaction Crashes
When a collision involving multiple cars occurs, it is possible to take legal action. You may file a personal injury lawsuit and can present your case in court for a jury to decide liability and damages or you may settle your case outside of court for a reasonable damage award.
Before you can take action, however, you need to know who was negligent and who should be held responsible, or liable, for the crash. Determining liability can be complex in these types of collisions.
Often, the driver who created the first crash is liable for injuries, but as we’ve shown, drivers can share fault. In fact, even public agencies can share fault for an accident if there are preventable hazards on the road. Examples of other negligent behavior that can contribute to a multi-vehicle accident include:
- Following too closely
- Failure to fix a broken brake light
- Distracted driving
- Failing to maintain roads or traffic signs
In addition, it is also necessary to assess whether any state agency or third party played a role in causing the crash or exacerbating the severity of the injuries.
The party or parties responsible for causing a multi-car accident can be held responsible for compensating you for:
- Medical costs
- Lost income/wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
At the same time, there are also instances in which no one is responsible for a wreck. A common example is when a chain reaction occurs as a result of black ice or another inclement weather condition. Another might be a driver losing consciousness at the wheel as the result of a medical condition. In these examples, it’s possible that no one is responsible, and each driver seeks compensation from their own insurance companies.
Can Multiple People be Responsible for a Chain-Reaction Collision?
In the event that one or more parties are responsible for a serious chain accident, an independent investigation becomes necessary. A car accident lawyer can complete an accident reconstruction and determine which parties are at fault for serious injuries.
This makes it possible for the victim to seek additional compensation to pay for damages, including immaterial losses like pain, suffering, and any loss in life quality. To reconstruct an accident, attorneys use tools like:
- Physical and forensic evidence from the scene
- Witness testimony
- Police reports
- Traffic records from the at-fault party
Call a Fort Lauderdale Multi-Vehicle Car Accident Attorney Today
If you’ve sustained an injury in a multi-vehicle accident, hire a skilled legal representative like David I. Fuchs to represent you and find the parties responsible. Because the damages may be very high, especially if you have suffered permanent injury or disability, you need to make the determination on who is responsible and you need to take legal action. A Fort Lauderdale multi-vehicle car accident lawyer can help.
Call our team today to discuss your case and get started on your claim.