A motor vehicle accident with another driver is always intimidating and overwhelming. But what if you get into an accident involving multiple vehicles? People often refer to this situation as multi-vehicle accidents or pile-ups. Pile-ups often result in catastrophic injuries, devastating property damage, and tragic deaths.
Many questions may arise following a multi-vehicle accident. Those questions include, “Who is responsible for causing the pile-up?” “Who will pay for my damages after a multi-vehicle accident?” and “What compensation can I get?”
Pile-ups occur when three or more vehicles are involved in the crash. If you or your loved one was involved in a multi-vehicle or pile-up accident, consider contacting a knowledgeable attorney to discuss your options for monetary compensations.
Handling Complex Accident Cases Involving Multiple Vehicles
There are many benefits to living in the large metropolitan area of Chicago. The access to museums and cultural events, proximity to the lake and various parks, and a variety of excellent restaurants. All of this makes this city an appealing place to spend time. As with any big city, traffic is a major issue for commuters and visitors alike. Further, with our heavy traffic, dangerous weather conditions, and distracted drivers, it should be no surprise that multi-car accidents often occur. And when they do happen, our Chicago pile-up accident lawyers are here to help.
What Should I do if Injured in a Multi-Car Accident?
You're on the expressway and driving at a reasonable speed, keeping up with traffic. The roads are a bit slick because of rain or snow, so people are going below the speed limit. All of the sudden, traffic slows down and you follow along. Unfortunately, the person behind you was either driving too fast, didn’t see your brake lights, or wasn’t able to react in time. They rear-end your car, resulting in your vehicle crashing into the car in front of you. It’s a scenario that most city drivers have played out in their minds, but when it becomes a reality, understanding how to react correctly can be a challenge.
Important Steps to Take After a Pile-Up Accident
If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few steps you can take to help protect your health and your potential claim.
- Call the police to report the accident - Officers know how to deal with multi-car crashes and will hopefully respond quickly. They will also file an official accident report that can help to support your case.
- Exchange information with all parties involved. If possible, take photos of everyone's ID and insurance cards.
- Take photos at the scene. With multiple vehicles involved, photograph the crash damages and locations.
- Obtain witness information. If an independent witness is at the accident location, take there information. They might not wait until police arrive.
- Assess your injuries and take proper medical precautions - let someone know immediately if you need to call an ambulance. If your injuries do not seem urgent, it is still essential to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Sometimes symptoms don’t show up for hours or even days after the initial impact. For example, whiplash is a serious injury that might not be apparent directly after the accident but can become incredibly painful and be debilitating shortly after.
- Contact a pile-up accident attorney in Chicago. Do this before speaking with any insurance adjuster. With multiple automobiles, issues can get confusing fast.
Types of Pile-up and Multi-Vehicle Crashes
Pile-up crashes can occur in a variety of ways. When determining what caused a multi-vehicle accident, parties must review the specific facts of each crash. Injured parties may need to hire an attorney to investigate the collision and help them determine fault.
Some of the most common types of pile-up crashes include:
- Chain-reaction rear-end collisions. Rear-end accidents are not an uncommon occurrence on the busy streets of Chicago and other cities in Illinois. However, these accidents may turn into chain-reaction crashes when more than two vehicles are involved. Typically, a rear-end accident involving three or more vehicles happens when one vehicle crashes into the back of another car, pushing the vehicle in front to slam into a third vehicle.
- Cross-lane crashes. Many roadways in Chicago have more than four lanes. When a collision between two vehicles occurs, the force of impact can send the vehicles across several lanes, hitting other cars on its path.
- Highway pile-up accidents. This type of pile-up is usually the deadliest one because vehicles travel at high speeds on highways. In the worst-case scenario, a highway pile-up may involve dozens of vehicles.
As you can imagine, determining what caused an accident that involves three or more vehicles can grow complicated.
Common Scenarios in Multi-Vehicle Accidents
Multi-vehicle accidents may involve various types of collisions.
Some of the most common scenarios in pile-ups include:
- Rear-end crashes. When a rear-end collision occurs in heavy traffic, the crash can lead to a chain-reaction accident. These accidents are likely to turn into pile-ups when vehicles speed, and drivers fail to maintain a safe following distance.
- T-bone accidents. A T-bone accident at an intersection may trigger a pile-up crash. T-bone collisions commonly happen due to a driver’s failure to stop at a red light or stop sign, resulting in them hitting the side of another vehicle passing through the intersection.
- Head-on crashes. When two vehicles collide head-on, the crash can result in a chain-reaction accident involving other vehicles, especially if the collision occurs at high speeds.
When an accident involves more than two drivers, establishing fault becomes more complicated because an attorney will have to analyze the behavior of all drivers involved in the crash to determine if they acted negligently or not.
Causes of Pile-up Accidents
Crashes involving multiple vehicles occur for various reasons.
Sometimes, pile-up accidents result from:
- Distracted driving. Failure to pay attention to one’s surroundings because of texting while driving or other distractions increases the risk of a pile-up accident. According to the AAA Exchange, taking eyes off the road for at least two seconds doubles the risk of crashing.
- Failure to maintain a safe distance. Following too closely is another common cause of pile-up accidents. When there is not enough space between the vehicles, collisions are more likely to happen when one of the vehicles suddenly brakes.
- Speeding. Driving above the speed limit makes it more difficult to control the vehicle and increases the risk of a car crash. That is why pile-ups are so common on highways where vehicles are traveling at high speeds.
- Driving under the influence. Intoxicated motorists are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, drive recklessly, or even fall asleep behind the wheel. Every year, drunk driving accounts for over 10,000 traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Inclement weather. Driving in bad weather conditions such as rain, snow, or fog increases the risk of multi-vehicle accidents due to poor visibility and a higher risk of sliding or skidding on the road.
- Drowsy driving. Many multi-vehicle accidents occur at night when drivers are more likely fatigued and drowsy. Drowsiness slows a driver’s reaction time and makes them more prone to falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Debris on the road or poor road conditions. Poor road conditions may also contribute to pile-ups. Driving over a pothole can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle, forcing them to veer into oncoming traffic.
- Rubbernecking. The term “rubbernecking” refers to drivers slowing down to see what happened when passing a car accident scene. Becoming distracted while passing the crash scene brings major accident risks.
Injuries in Multi-Vehicle Accidents
Pile-ups are usually associated with devastating and catastrophic injuries because many vehicles are involved. A victim of a multi-vehicle accident is at risk of being hit by vehicles multiple times from different angles, which is why pile-ups often involve severe physical injuries.
Some of the most common injuries in accidents involving more than two vehicles include:
- Broken bones. The human bone can break when the force exerted on it is more than it can handle. Depending on the severity of damage and the type of the broken bone, it can take years for the broken bone to heal, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses.
- Internal organ damage and bleeding. Car accidents often result in ruptured blood vessels, which can lead to internal bleeding. Internal organs may also suffer significant damage, especially in high-impact collisions. Internal bleeding and organ damage can be life-threatening if not treated properly and promptly.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Head trauma and brain injuries are among the most devastating car accident injuries. Each year, more than 60,000 Americans die because of TBIs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Victims of pile-ups are more likely to suffer severe head trauma when their vehicles do not have proper airbags, or the airbags do not deploy for some reason. Symptoms of a serious TBI may not be apparent for hours or even days following the crash.
- Spinal cord injuries. When there is a sudden blow to the spinal cord or its surrounding tissues, a person may lose their ability to walk or may even become permanently or temporarily paralyzed. A spinal cord injury suffered by victims of multi-vehicle collisions may require extensive and expensive medical care.
- Knee injuries. When the knees hit against the dashboard, they are likely to sustain severe damage. The sudden impact of the crash can result in significant damage to the ligaments, requiring surgery to recover and walk again.
- Back and neck injuries. The impact can cause the neck and its surrounding tendons and ligaments to stretch beyond their limits, causing severe injury. Whiplash is one of the common types of neck injuries suffered by victims of car accidents. The effects of a neck or back injury can haunt the victim for the rest of his or her life.
Emotional trauma. In addition to physical injuries, a victim of a multi-vehicle accident may deal with emotional trauma. A devastating car crash can take a toll on the person’s mental and emotional well-being, resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, paranoia, anxiety, and other forms of emotional trauma.
Who is Responsible for a Pile-Up Crash?
Liability in Multi-Vehicle Crashes Can be Complicated. To seek payment for your medical bills and other losses, you must determine who was responsible for causing the crash. This can be challenging in a multi-car accident. Often, more than one driver may have acted negligently.
For example, one driver ran a red light. But another driver did not stop to avoid the collision because he was looking down at his phone.
If more than one driver is the cause of a crash, you can file claims against both to hold them liable for your losses. Our pile-up collision attorneys in Chicago know how to identify any drivers, auto manufacturers, or additional parties that may be at fault.
In addition, what if you were partially at fault for a multi-car pile-up? For example, you were the driver looking down at your phone when someone else ran a red light.
Do not assume that you cannot seek financial recovery because you were also negligent. Under Illinois law, injured parties can seek compensation even if they are partially responsible for a crash. For example, if the other driver was 75 percent responsible and you were 25 percent responsible, you can still seek recovery for 75 percent of your losses.
These are only two of many reasons why multi-car accident claims can be complicated. You definitely need a law firm who has experience handling such challenging cases. At Abels & Annes, P.C., we represent clients against multiple parties and can advise you of your rights depending on the circumstances of your crash.
How Can You Determine Fault in Multi-Vehicle Accidents?
Since a multi-vehicle accident involves multiple vehicles, determining fault becomes more difficult than in collisions between two vehicles. That is why someone should always call the police to the scene to prepare a report and document the accident. Injured victims have to hire attorneys and accident reconstruction experts to help them determine how the collision happened and who can be held responsible for causing it.
When determining what caused your pile-up collision, an experienced attorney will have to ask and answer:
- How many vehicles were involved?
- Were any of the drivers exceeding the speed limit?
- Was anyone distracted, drowsy, or drunk?
- Did any of the vehicles have faulty equipment or automobile defects?
- Did weather conditions contribute to the accident?
- Did road conditions play a role in the collision?
- Did any driver fail to exercise due care?
Investigating a multi-vehicle accident can be a complicated and daunting task, which is why injured victims can benefit from hiring an attorney to determine fault and fight for the compensation they deserve. A skilled attorney can help you determine what caused the collision and identify liable parties while you focus on your physical recovery.
Should I Talk to the Insurance Company?
After an accident, it is very common for both your insurance company and the other side's carrier to reach out to you and request a statement. The insurance adjusters will typically act concerned about your injuries and seem like they want to help you.
An adjuster might ask you to recall, in your own words, what was the cause of the accident. They might also ask about your medical care.
Iit might be tempting to speak with them and discuss these details. However, it is important to keep communication with the insurance companies to a minimum. Choose an attorney who will then handle all communications for you.
Any statement you provide can be used against you in an effort to reduce the value of your claim. While it might seem like the insurance companies are working to help you, they are in the business of turning a profit.
On the other hand, your claim might be an important source of compensation for you after a serious car accident. Thus, it is essential to protect yourself and maximize the value of your monetary award.
For this reason, it is beneficial to direct all inquiries to your lawyer. An attorney who has experience working with car accident victims is better equipped to handle these conversations.
What Compensation Can You Seek After a Pile-up?
People who sustain injuries in car accidents, including pile-ups, deserve compensation for their losses and damages. The losses that car accident victims sustain depend on the severity of their injuries and the impact of those injuries on the victim’s life, earning capacity, emotional well-being, and other effects.
If you suffered injuries in a multi-vehicle accident, you might recover damages for:
- The cost of repairing/replacing your damaged vehicle
- Hospital and medical bills, including hospital costs
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
- Emotional trauma, including post-traumatic stress disorder, pain and suffering, distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and others
The amount of money you can demand from the at-fault party depends on the circumstances of your accident, the number of at-fault parties, the severity of your injury, and other factors. Consider contacting a skilled personal injury attorney to fight for fair compensation on your behalf.
Contact a Chicago Pile-Up Accident Lawyer at Abels & Annes, P.C.
An accident that involves multiple cars can result in serious injuries to everyone involved. The aftermath of an accident can be a confusing time. You're managing calls from the insurance company, dealing with doctor appointments, and organizing time off work to recover. If you have been hurt in a car accident, it is advisable to speak with a personal injury lawyer without delay.
At Abels & Annes, P.C., our legal team works with accident victims throughout the Chicago area who have sustained serious injuries in collisions. We are dedicated to advocating for our clients’ rights to just compensation. Call us today at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for a free consultation.