West Palm Beach Accident Lawyer Discusses What You Need to Know About Multi-Vehicle Accidents
No matter what state they occur in, multi-vehicle accidents are exceptionally damaging, in terms of property damages, injuries, deaths, and even their impact on the communities surrounding them. Some of the worst in Florida includes:
- On 1/14/2018, eight cars were involved in a pileup on the Florida Turnpike in Miami-Dade County. Although the cause has never been verified, we do know that only passenger vehicles were involved, injuring six people.
- On January 29, 2012, 16 cars were involved in a pileup that covered a mile of Interstate 17 near Gainesville. Darkness, heavy smoke, and dense fog combined to completely eliminate any visibility on the road. At least six tractor-trailers and ten cars were involved, killing ten and injuring 18.
- The worst car accident pileup in Florida history is also one of the worst in U.S. history. On January 9, 2008, Interstate 4 between Tampa and Orlando was blanketed by a dense layer of fog and smoke as a nearby brush fire erupted into a cover of smoke that hung over the landscape for miles. With the road covered in darkness, tractor-trailers and a tanker overturned, with six of them burning completely. Passenger cars crashed into one another, with many pinned below larger vehicles. In total, four individuals were killed as a result of the crash and 38 were injured, five severely.
If you or a loved one has been injured or even killed in a multi-vehicle accident in the West Palm Beach area, immediately contact an experienced West Palm Beach accident lawyer at Searcy Denney for your free consultation. We’ll analyze your case and advise you regarding your claims.
What You Need to Know About Multi-Vehicle Accidents
Any automotive accident is horrifying. Nonetheless, a multi-vehicle accident can increase physical damage exponentially and drastically increase the number of injuries as well as their severity. Here’s what every driver should know:
- Multi-Vehicle Accidents are Complicated. Like any automobile crash, law enforcement tries to determine the cause of the accident and who is at fault. Simply finding out who’s at fault is complicated as to itself, so it stands to reason that determining the fault for a multi-vehicle collision can be exceptionally complex. There are a lot of factors that complicate matters when there are multiple vehicles involved.
- Multiple Driver’s May Be at Fault. Once every driver involved has been questioned and/or formally interviewed, law enforcement will examine factors such as weather conditions, road conditions, tire marks, evidence of distracted or impaired driving, and the like. After a complete and thorough investigation, law enforcement typically offers opinions as to which driver triggered the accident, and which drivers contributed to the accident.
- Florida is a Pure Comparative Negligence State. Pure comparative negligence allows injured parties to collect damages that are proportional to their percentage of fault. For example, say Sally sues Tina and recovers $100,000. However, Sally was found to be 30% at fault for running a stop sign. Tina would owe Sally $70,000 (100% total minus Sally’s 30% fault) instead of $100,000.
- Injuries Are Typically More Severe. In a multi-vehicle accident, most vehicles sustain front and/or rear-end damage, possibly even side damage. Since there are commonly more than two points of impact, drivers are susceptible to a higher chance of severe injuries.
- It’s the Short Few Minutes After the Crash That Count. Multi-vehicle car accidents can happen almost instantaneously, although in some cases, they can drag on for minutes as other vehicles continue to collide with one another. If you feel like the collisions have stopped, safely move your car aside and call 911. If you do not feel safe getting out, stay put and keep your seatbelt fastened until law enforcement or first responders arrive.
- Your Statement is Key. For big pileups, authorities inspect tire marks, road conditions, weather and take statements from every driver involved in the accident. Give out only the very basic information, do not offer opinions, refuse any signed or recorded statements from any insurance representative, take photos of your vehicle and all the damages, and collect contact information from others involved, including that of any witness.
Determining Fault in a Multi-Vehicle Accident
Multi-vehicle accidents are generally of the “chain reaction” type. Chain-reaction crashes commonly occur due to the force of an initial collision. For example, if a large commercial truck rear-ends a car, the force of this first collision could be enough to push the car into the rear-end of the vehicle in front of it. The second collision could cause another rear-end collision between the third and fourth cars, and so on until some drier is far enough behind the car in front of it to be able to stop.
While the crash may involve multiple vehicles, only one party may be liable; typically the second car in the chain that initially collides with the first car in the chain. The driver that caused the first accident will be the driver most likely at fault for everyone’s damages.
However, the fault may not always lie with the second driver. If the first car did something that caused the second driver to hit it from behind; say, did not have functioning brake lights, the first driver may be liable for the second car hitting the first car, and then the first car driver would be responsible for the chain of collisions started by this collision.
Assigning liability for a chain-reaction car accident may be the job of the various insurance adjusters, who may collude among themselves to assign fault across the board so that one insurance company does not bear the brunt of all of the damages to all of the cars involved.
If you are not the party deemed at fault for all of the damages, it’s critical that you immediately contact an experienced West Palm Beach accident lawyer at Searcy Denney to protect your rights. We will work with a team of investigators, crash reconstructionists, and forensic experts to visit the scene, interview witnesses, and take other measures to determine exactly how the crash occurred.
A West Palm Beach Accident Lawyer Can Help if You’ve Been in a Multi-Vehicle Accident
Carrying sole liability for large multi-automobile accidents can become a bankruptcy-level responsibility. Call 800-780-8607 or contact a West Palm Beach accident lawyer at Searcy Denney to schedule your free consultation. We’ll make sure you aren’t being held liable for someone else’s mistakes. We work on a contingency fee basis.