In August, a multi-vehicle crash involving 10 cars led to the death of a ten year old child and the injury of seven more people. Investigators concluded that the accident was caused by a semi-truck driver’s failure to slow down appropriately when he entered a construction zone. The severity of a car crash depends on a number of factors, including the speed at which the cars were traveling, the number of cars involved, the size of the vehicles, and the age and general health of the drivers and passengers. However, there are some types of car accidents, such as multi-car pile-ups, that are notoriously deadly or more likely to result in serious injury than other kinds of car crashes.
Multi-vehicle crashes often occur in situations where some or all of the following factors exist, including:
- High traffic density;
- Poor weather conditions;
- Distracted driving;
- Improper passing;
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Driving while fatigued; and
Even in cases where at least one person was clearly at fault in causing a multi-car pile-up, it can be difficult to appropriately assign responsibility. This is because there may be more than one negligent driver. For example, in attempting to see an accident on the side of the road, one driver may rear-end the car in front of him or her. The person driving behind that individual may have been texting and so failed to see the wreck in front of him or her and so also collided with the first two cars. Even government agencies and vehicle manufacturers can be held partly responsible if a pothole or other road defect contributed to an accident or if a blown tire caused by a defective part caused a driver to lose control of a vehicle. Because there are so many cars and points of impact involved in a multi-vehicle crash, it can be difficult for the passenger in the first car to determine which driver caused specific injuries. In these cases, investigators are usually required to help determine who was at fault by taking the following steps:
- Reviewing police reports and speaking with responding officers;
- Interviewing drivers, passengers, and any bystanders who may have witnessed the crash;
- Taking photographs of the damaged vehicles as well as the scene of the accident, including vehicle debris;
- Measuring skid marks and calculating points of impact;
- Reviewing the parties’ driving records; and
- Reconstructing the accident.
Fortunately, even when an injured party was partially at fault in causing a crash, he or she can still collect some compensation from other negligent parties. This is because Ohio follows the legal theory of comparative negligence, which states that plaintiffs who share a degree of fault are not barred from recovery, but will collect an amount that is decreased by their percentage of responsibility. However, if an injured party was more than 50 percent at fault in causing the crash, he or she cannot recover from the other parties.
Determining fault in multi-vehicle crashes is especially important because the injuries sustained in these types of accidents tend to be particularly severe, and in many cases, can even be deadly.
The higher risk involved in multi-car crashes is due to the fact that victims may suffer from multiple impacts by a number of different vehicles varying in size. The more cars are involved, the more broken glass, steel, and leaking gasoline will be present at the scene. This is why car fires are more likely to occur in multi-vehicle crashes, a problem that is only exacerbated by the blocked roads that so often accompany these types of crashes as it makes it difficult and sometimes impossible for emergency responders to get to the crash site quickly. Even a minute can make the difference between serious injury and death, especially if a fire is involved and a passenger or driver is unconscious and unable to extricate him or herself from the wreckage. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that as many as 40 percent of all traffic-related injuries and fatalities occur as a result of multi-vehicle crashes.
Injuries sustained in multi-vehicle crashes tend to be more catastrophic and can include:
- Spinal cord injury and paralysis;
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Severe lacerations;
- Internal bleeding;
- Crushed and broken bones;
- Severe burns;
- Cardiac arrest;
- Emotional distress; and
Treating these injuries can be expensive and quickly overwhelm a victim’s finances. For instance, severe burns require multiple surgeries, painful skin grafts, and months of physical therapy. Victims are often left with extensive and permanent scarring and are more at-risk of contracting serious infections. Burn victims are usually required to remain in the hospital for weeks or months at a time and must pay for expensive treatments and medications. Fortunately, if a plaintiff can prove that another driver’s negligence caused or contributed to the accident, he or she may be able to collect compensation to cover these medical costs as well as present and future lost wages and vehicle repair or replacement. Many victims of serious car crashes struggle with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder for the rest of their lives and require therapy or medication to deal with anxiety. For this reason, responsible parties can also be required to compensate a victim for the emotional distress and pain he or she endured as a result of the accident.
Contact Ohio Car Accident Lawyers to Speak with an Experienced Cleveland Car Accident Attorney Today
Being involved in a multi-car pile-up can leave a victim feeling helpless and without recourse. However, negligent parties can and should be held responsible for the part they played in causing another person’s injuries, so if you are a resident of Cleveland and recently sustained an injury in a multi-vehicle crash, please contact Ohio Car Accident Lawyers by sending us a brief message containing your contact information and we will help you set up a free consultation with an experienced Cleveland car accident attorney who is well-versed in state law and can protect your interests.