Multi-Vehicle Accidents Often Have Devasting Consequences

Multi-Vehicle Accidents Often Have Devasting ConsequencesEarlier this month, a multi-car crash involving three vehicles occurred near the A.P. Hill state in Richmond’s Northside. Fortunately, no significant injuries were attributed to the accident, but unfortunately, this is not often the case with multi-vehicle accidents.

A multi-car accident (sometimes called a pile-up) is a collision involving several vehicles. Multi-vehicle accidents are particularly common on roadways where many vehicles travel side by side at highway speeds, making it difficult for drivers approaching an accident to stop at a safe distance and collide with vehicles ahead. Multi-car accidents frequently occur in road conditions where visibility is negatively impacted by fog, rain, or snow. In these situations, drivers lack the necessary time to avoid hitting vehicles around them, and many don’t hit the brakes fast enough or swerve into other traffic lanes.

Some common causes of multi-vehicle accidents include:

  • Fatigue
  • Speed
  • Reckless driving
  • Environmental conditions
  • Driver distraction
  • Intoxication
  • Medical Impairment

There are several different circumstances that may result in multi-vehicle accidents and injuries, such as:

  • Chain reaction. This multi-car occurs when traffic stops, either at a light or on the roadway, and one driver hits another from behind, and a chain reaction involving three or more vehicles is the result.
  • Middle car strikes car in front – in this scenario, the vehicle in front of the rear car hits the car immediately in front of it, traffic stops suddenly, and as a result, the rear car is unable to stop and subsequently hits the vehicle in front of him.
  • Front vehicle at fault. When the front vehicle stops in the middle of the road for no reason without giving the motorists behind time to react and stop, a multi-car accident often results.
  • Phantom vehicle – This multi-vehicle accident happens when a car hits another vehicle from behind, forcing it into the vehicles immediately in front of it, and then leaves the scene of the accident.

According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities in multi-vehicle accidents increased 16 percent from 2020 to 2021. Data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles revealed similar findings: 967 fatalities occurred on Virginia highways in 2021, a rise of 15 percent over 2020.

What to to do if you’re involved in a multi-car accident

If you’re involved in a multi-car accident in Richmond or anywhere in Virginia, here are some steps you should take:

  1. Call the police to report the accident, even if you think others may have already reported it.
  2. Exchange information with others involved: name, address, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate number, motor vehicle registration number, and insurance information.
  3. Document your observations concerning the accident, including when the accident occurred, the driving conditions, remarks that other drivers may have made to you, damage to your vehicle, and any injuries suffered.
  4. Take pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, and the damage sustained.
  5. Request the contact information from any potential witnesses to the crash.
  6. Report the accident to your insurance company.
  7. If possible, don’t move your car until after the police respond. Keeping the cars in position might provide law enforcement with clues regarding how the accident happened and the potential causes.
  8. Obtain a medical examination as soon as possible at an urgent care facility, hospital emergency room, or clinic.
  9. Get a repair estimate for your vehicle from an auto body shop.
  10. Avoid speaking to any representatives of other drivers’ automobile insurance companies, and don’t agree to provide a written or recorded statement.

It’s also critical that you refuse to accept any settlement offers from insurance companies until you consult with a qualified Richmond personal injury attorney.

What types of injuries are caused by multi-vehicle accidents?

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the crash, multi-car accidents can lead to various types of injuries, including:

  • Back and neck injuries such whiplash and other neck, muscle, tendon, and other soft tissue injuries.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) ranging in severity from minor concussions to serious injuries that result in long-term disability.
  • Spinal injuries leading to loss of sensation or movement in the extremities, depending on where the damage occurred.
  • Loss of limb resulting from extremely serious car accidents that require amputation and leave the victim disabled and unable to work.
  • Fractures of the arms, wrists, collarbone, legs, and feet.

Depending on your injuries and the circumstances of the accident, you may be entitled to receive compensation for past and future medical bills, wage loss, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and property damage.

Establishing fault in a multi-vehicle accident

Determining liability for a multi-car pile-up is usually more complex compared to a collision that involves one or two vehicles. Several states, including Virginia, follow the legal doctrine of pure contributory negligence, meaning that if an injured person is found to have contributed to the accident or injury in any way, no matter how slight, they won’t be able to recover any damages. Said another way, the other must be 100 percent at fault or an injured person won’t be allowed to collect any monetary damages. The pure contributory negligence rule applies to all automobile accidents in Virginia, including multi-car collisions.

Like other traffic accidents, cases involving multi-car collisions need evidence, and the party who can provide the most convincing proof will likely recover damages, whether there is a fatality or not. Multi-vehicle accidents often involve complex crash scenes that can be difficult to interpret, particularly when a chain of events caused the collision. For example, although one driver may have hit another vehicle, other drivers may have contributed to the situation by speeding or overdriving the road conditions. Although law enforcement officers will attempt to reconstruct what happened, in some cases reconstruction experts, such as engineers, may be called in to study the accident scene and draw logical conclusions.

Did you or a loved one sustain a severe injury in a multi-car accident in Virginia? The Richmond personal injury attorneys at Phelan Petty are here to help. It can be extremely difficult to obtain compensation for your losses while you are trying to recover from serious injuries – let our attorneys work for you while you take the time you need to recover. Our law firm is based in Richmond, but we serve injured clients throughout the state of Virginia. To schedule a free initial case evaluation at our firm in Richmond, call Phelan Petty or complete our contact form today.

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