By their very nature, multi-car collisions are more dangerous than other auto accidents.

It can also be harder to determine fault.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that there are approximately six million motor vehicle accidents every year. Of these, approximately one-third are multi-vehicle crash or pile-up collisions. Due to the number of vehicles involved, the scene has more extensive damage, injuries and fatalities.

These types of cases are also much more complicated when it comes to determining fault, liability and compensation.

Have you or a loved one have been affected by a multi-car wreck? If so, you should consider contacting a dedicated car accident lawyer as soon as possible. At Tragos Law, our accident attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to investigate the most complicated cases and secure the best possible outcome for your injury claim.

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How pile-up collisions happen

Pile-ups, also known as chain reaction accidents and multiple vehicle collisions, typically involve three or more vehicles that begin when two vehicles collide. The speed at which vehicles on the highway travel and the number of vehicles on the road make the initial multi-vehicle crash nearly impossible to avoid. The vehicles in the immediate vicinity are unable to stop in time or drive around the collision and a chain reaction occurs. Subsequent collisions endanger all of the vehicle occupants involved. However, the passengers of the first two vehicles are at greater risk, as they are no longer protected by airbags or other restraints.

Unlike a car crash that involves one or two vehicles, multiple vehicle collisions often lead to fires and explosions, which makes the damage and severity of injuries that much greater. The array of wrecked vehicles littering the road, combined with fires and the possibility of explosions, interfere with the ability of police and EMTs to enter the scene and assist victims.

A large multi-vehicle collision occurred in Tampa, Florida in 2008. The disaster involved a 70-car pile-up on Interstate 4. The event was caused by fog and smoke from a locally controlled burn that hampered driver visibility. As a result of the catastrophe, 38 people suffered injuries and four people lost their lives. Lawsuits were filed and millions of dollars in compensation was awarded to the victims and their families.

Multi-vehicle crash factors

There are many circumstances that have the potential to cause a multiple auto-accident catastrophe. Sometimes the collision is caused by more than one factor.

The various causes can include:

  • Distractions: Drivers may become distracted while texting, turning to talk to another passenger or taking their eyes from the road ahead while looking at other areas of the environment. They might also briefly stop watching the road when eating, drinking or reaching for something in their vehicle.

  • Driving under the influence: Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle after drinking alcohol or taking certain prescription medications or illegal street drugs puts themselves and others at risk. Substances slow reaction time and interfere with depth perception, which may lead to a car crash.

  • Drowsiness: Some people drive for hours without stopping in order to make a destination in time. Some might attempt to drive despite not having enough sleep the night before. Fatigued drivers can start nodding off at the wheel and cause a chain of collisions before they wake up.

  • High-speed chases: When law enforcement officers are in pursuit of a suspect, the individual often drives erratically and becomes more concerned with getting away than the danger they might pose to others on the road.

  • Bad weather: Fog, heavy rain or blowing snow are all known to lead to multiple vehicle collisions. If other vehicles follow closely behind, they too become part of the accident.

  • Recklessness: Irresponsible drivers who speed, dart in and out of traffic or follow other vehicles too closely may contribute to collisions. Over-correcting steering, getting a flat tire or taking their eyes from the highway may lead to a collision with one or more vehicles.

  • Road conditions: Ice, rain and sleet also have the potential to make the roads slick. Exceeding the speed limit according to the road condition often causes drivers to lose control and have an accident. In 2016, a North Carolina highway was the scene of a 130-car pile up when heavy rain made the asphalt slippery.

  • Vehicle malfunction: A flat tire, failing brakes or ineffective windshield wipers all have the potential to cause accidents. When brakes failed on a vehicle in Indonesia in 2016, the malfunction led to a collision involving a truck, three cars, five motorcycles and damage to two buildings.

Determining fault in a pile-up car accident lawsuit

An accident scene involving multiple vehicles poses a challenge for site investigators to determine the cause and who might be at fault. In order for victims to receive compensation, it must be decided what vehicles collided first and whose insurance company is responsible for paying. Investigators must learn if anyone was driving recklessly. Perhaps more than one driver was at fault. Environmental or mechanical factors must also be determined.

If you’ve been injured in a multi-vehicle collision in Florida, call the experienced attorneys at Tragos Law for a free case consultation today.

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