On a warm summer evening a young couple loaded their three small children and a freshly baked pie into their van and headed out to visit friends. As the family traveled on a busy street, a drunk driver traveling two cars behind them lost control of his vehicle and caused a chain reaction collision. This ultimately caused the couple’s vehicle to spin, flip onto its side and burst into flames.
Multi-car crashes, also known as chain reaction accidents or pile ups, can occur for a number of reasons. All it takes are vehicles travelling close together in heavy traffic and a driver suddenly hits the brakes, whether for a pot hole or to avoid a distracted driver veering out of his or her lane. What results is a series of collisions with vehicles plowing into each other. This type of collision becomes increasingly dangerous as motorists are hit with multiple impacts and drivers attempt to exit their vehicles. According to the National Safely Council, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of occupational fatalities and the leading cause of death for people ages 2-39 and ages 50-72.
Chain reaction accidents can occur in low visibility conditions, such as fog and rain, where drivers have little warning and simply don’t have enough time to stop, however statistics do show 82.2 percent of fatal crashes occurred on dry roadways. With more and more drivers on the roads every year, even good drivers are at risk of being involved in a serious automobile accident. In 2011, Illinois averaged 772 vehicle crashes per day with over 9 people injured in those crashes every hour. That same year 918 persons died as a result of vehicle crashes.
Fortunately, in the case of the young couple, the family escaped the burning vehicle with seemingly only minor injuries, the pie, however, was burnt beyond recognition. They refused ambulance service thinking that everyone was okay, but over the next few days the couple began experiencing pain and stiffness in their necks, shoulders and backs.
Injuries sustained in automobile accidents are not always readily apparent and symptoms may not appear right away. Strains and sprains of the neck, commonly referred to as “whiplash”, are caused by the head and next being thrown into hyperextension at the time of impact. The muscles and ligaments are pulled by this motion and can cause chronic and debilitating pain. Symptoms include headaches, neck pain and stiffness, back pain and stiffness, fatigue and dizziness.These symptoms don’t always present themselves immediately following the collision but may develop within a few days following the accident. You should always seek medical attention following a collision, especially in the case of head trauma.
With multi-car pile ups, not only is there the risk of injury and/or death but also there is the added problem of trying to determine who is liable for the accident. In the case of the young couple, an insurance company contacted them a day or so after the collision and made a quick settlement offer which they accepted. At the time they didn’t know the extent of their injuries. They didn’t know that they would suffer with neck and back pain for the next several months, or how difficult it would be to go to work and take care of their three small children. They didn’t really know who to blame for the accident so they took the first settlement offer that came to them and never pursued the matter any further. The settlement they accepted covered little more than the cost of their vehicle and none of their medical bills.
The liability issues stemming from chain reaction car collisions can be very complex. Weather conditions, road conditions, drivers’ negligence and contributory negligence can all be factors to be considered in determining the cause of an accident. A driver can simultaneously be at fault for hitting the vehicle in front of him and be the victim of a collision where he is hit from behind. There may be only a few at fault drivers but numerous people injured and vehicles damaged.
Insurance coverage may come from several sources such as the at-fault drivers insurance, the at-fault driver’s employers insurance (under certain circumstances) and your own insurance in instances where the at fault driver either did not have insurance or did not have enough insurance. Determining the cause of these types of collisions and who is responsible for the damages can be extremely difficult and can require extensive investigation. The multi-car collision attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. are dedicated to working through all aspects involved in this type of case and can assist you in reaching a settlement
If you are able, you should contact the police department and remain at the scene of the accident until advised by the officers that you can leave.Get as much contact information on the other drivers as you can, write down their insurance information, make note of the location of the incident and the police report number. Try to take photographs of the scene of the occurrence and damage to any of the vehicles. Be sure to include license plate numbers in your photographs.Gathering this information will help you move your case forward to get fairly compensated for your losses.
The young family we’ve been telling you about didn’t get a fair settlement. They never hired an attorney. We only know about them because one of their children is now grown up and works at Abels & Annes, P.C.
If you have been injured in a chain reaction accident, contact the attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. for a free consultation. With our many years of experience in handling complex automobile accident cases the lawyers at our office can assess your claim and help you bring it to a satisfying conclusion. There is no fee unless you win, so make the call today. Call (855) LAW-CHICAGO. You can also contact us online. We welcome the opportunity to help you.