Multi-vehicle accidents, or chain reaction collisions, happen when more than 2 cars hit each other in a sequence of rear-end accidents. Just this February, a multi-vehicle wreck on the Long Island Expressway occurred when an SUV and a National Grid truck collided in the eastbound lanes, causing the SUV to flip over and catch fire. Most of these accidents occur on the highway when many cars are traveling at high speeds and are unable to stop in time to avoid the vehicle ahead. They are also one of the most damaging and deadliest forms of traffic accidents.
What Causes Them?
One of the reasons for chain reaction accidents is low visibility. In foggy conditions, it is often hard to see more than a few feet in front of your vehicle. If you are driving too quickly and too close to the car in front of you, you will not be able to stop before striking the bumper of the car ahead. This kind of crash is also more likely to occur if black ice is on the road. One car skidding out of control can send multiple cars across the freeway as their drivers attempt to avoid the chaos; however, in panicking, people are more likely to hit other cars trying to do the same. For example, the frigid conditions in Suffolk last December caused a mini school bus, a FedEx tractor-trailer truck, and at least 20 other vehicles to stop traffic completely in a massive pileup. A witness said it wasn’t the snow that caused the collisions but the “pure ice” on the roads.
Effects on Drivers/Passengers
Part of what makes these collisions so deadly is that the mass of metal makes it difficult for survivors to escape. If they do endure the initial accident, survivors could be struck by other vehicles heading into the pile up behind them. Additionally, the airbags in the first crash will not go off for subsequent hits, meaning the airbag will only go off once and protect you once. The sides of the vehicle are also more vulnerable to collisions, and they might be more exposed if you were knocked off course. In chain reaction accidents, many people will also be injured, potentially overwhelming the rescue crews. This kind of accident could also be deadly in a fiery pileup inside a tunnel, as there is low ventilation in this kind of area.
After a chain reaction accident, it might be impossible to exchange information with everyone involved. Some might be on their way to the hospital, some might be stuck inside the vehicles, and some might have perished in the collision. This can be particularly tricky later when drivers then need to pay for medical bills and car repairs. In a chain reaction accident, it can be difficult to pinpoint liability. In no-fault states, this can be a little easier, as each person’s insurance company will cover their own policyholders. However, in at-fault states, the jury will consider all the evidence and assign fault to each defendant. These defendants can, in turn, claim that the plaintiff was negligent, and the jury can assign a percentage of fault to the plaintiff. New York is a pure contributory negligence state, which means a claimant’s negligence, no matter how great, will not prevent recovery, but the damages will be reduced in proportion to his or her negligence.
If you are involved in a chain reaction accident, make sure you see your doctor as soon as possible and make sure you speak to a lawyer. Insurance companies will attempt to deny claims however they legally can, so you need a representative on your side who understands the complicated nature of personal injury law. Call our experienced Nassau car accident attorney, Charles R. Gueli. He has nearly 2 decades of legal experience getting people compensation for their wounds. He treats his clients with personalized attention and aggressively advocates for them in court and in negotiations. Contact us at (516) 628-6402 or fill out our online form to schedule your free case evaluation. We are available 24/7 to listen to your case.