Most people are familiar with the falling dominos game. Domino tiles are placed upright, one after the next, so that knocking over a single tile begins a chain reaction that brings down the entire row. Multi-car accidents occur in much the same way. Under certain driving conditions, a mistake by one motorist can set off a massive collision, potentially injuring other motorists who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Multi-car accidents (also called “pileups”) can involve many drivers, passengers, witnesses, and other parties. If you were hurt in one of these accidents, do not allow your claim to get lost in the shuffle. Neale & Fhima has decades of experience representing victims of pileups in Orange County and the surrounding communities. Contact us and we will make sure the parties responsible for causing your injuries are held accountable.
The Crowded Streets of Southern California
Pileup accidents are more likely to occur in areas with high traffic congestion. That is bad news for people living in this part of the state. Consider the Riverside Freeway (Route 91) between Corona and Yorba Linda. Because of the topography of the Santa Ana Mountains, this section of freeway is the primary artery for people commuting into Orange County from the east. As a result, congestion is heavy, especially during peak driving hours. It is simply a matter of too many vehicles and not enough roadway.
One Driving Mistake Can Trigger a Chain Reaction
Every multi-vehicle accident begins with some type of unexpected movement by the first vehicle involved. This triggering event is usually the result of driver error. Even if the driver of the first vehicle is not to blame, though, other drivers involved in the crash may have made mistakes while reacting (or failing to react) to the situation.
In fact, the California Highway Patrol reports that out of the 157,308 collisions that occurred in Los Angeles County in 2016, only 2,356 of them were determined to have been caused by a primary collision factor unrelated to driving behavior. That means that more than 98 percent of the collisions were caused by a driver of one of the vehicles involved.
Driving behaviors with the potential to cause or contribute to a pileup accident include:
- Speeding or driving too fast for conditions
- Smartphone use and other forms of distracted driving
- Failure to obey traffic signals
- Rubbernecking at the scene of a prior accident
- Losing control while attempting to avoid debris or animals
- Driver fatigue/falling asleep at the wheel
- Failure to maintain lane of travel
- Improper passing on a 2-lane road
- DUI or drugs
- Failing to move a stalled vehicle off the roadway
- Driving without headlights or taillights.
Fog – The Most Dangerous Driving Condition of All
Rain, blowing dust, sun glare, flooding, and other adverse weather conditions greatly increase the likelihood of a multi-vehicle accident. But when it comes to the worst Mother Nature has to offer, there is no question that fog leads to more pileups than any other type of weather.
On November 3, 2002, during a dense fog on the Long Beach Freeway (I-710), more than 200 vehicles were involved in a chain-reaction collision in the southbound lanes. Five more minor collisions were reported in the northbound lanes in the aftermath of the accident, as motorists traveling in the opposite direction slowed to view the wreckage.
The Long Beach Freeway pileup ranks number four on the list of the 10 largest traffic accidents in history. Of the nine remaining pileups on the list, seven involved poor visibility due to fog. With the dangers of driving in the fog so well-documented, Southern California drivers would do well to follow this admonition published by the DMV:
The best advice for driving in the fog is DON’T. You should consider postponing your trip until the fog clears. However, if you must drive, then drive slow, turn on your windshield wipers, and use your low-beam headlights…Increase your following distance and be prepared to stop within the space you can see ahead.
-California Driver Handbook, Special Driving Situations
Why You Should Hire a Lawyer for a Multi-Car Accident Claim
Defendants in pileup cases often point to contributing factors like the weather as excuses for their own negligence. Confusion can also arise as to which drivers contributed to the accident, and which did not. For example, assume the following scenario:
You are driving up the San Diego Freeway toward Dana Point early one morning. The traffic in front of you slows as you approach a patch of fog that has rolled in off the ocean. You slow down as well, making sure to leave a safe distance between you and the vehicle you are following. Suddenly, a vehicle slams into you from behind, causing you to rear-end the vehicle in front.
To your surprise, the driver behind you later claims that the accident was unavoidable due to poor visibility. You also learn that the driver in front of you has filed a claim against your insurance company. You wonder, how can this be?
Tactics like these are all too common in multi-vehicle accidents. At Neale & Fhima, our personal injury attorneys can determine who should be held responsible for a pileup, regardless of what the other parties are claiming. Most importantly, when it comes time for settlement, we will make sure you receive compensation for all your damages – physical, emotional, and financial. Call (888) 568-6983 or fill out the form below to contact our office.