Stephen Hasner | Car Accidents | August 17, 2018
Multi-car pile-ups. We’ve all caught a glimpse of them on our local roads and freeways. The ambulances and stretchers, crushed cars, and distraught people on the side of the road draw our attention, prompting us to say a word of thanks that we weren’t involved. Had fate placed us just a few moments earlier on our route, we might very well have found ourselves caught in the fray.
All motor vehicle accidents are scary and harrowing, but multi-car crashes carry particular perils that exacerbate the potential consequences. An accident involving numerous vehicles often results in injuries and damage that are more severe than in other incidents. The multiple parties involved hold differing perceptions of what actually happened, causing emotions to run high and complicating the task of assigning fault and legal liability.
In 2016, Georgia had 710 multi-car crashes, making up 46 percent of the collisions in the state that year. Given this large number, it’s well worth it for drivers to understand the complexities of multi-car accidents and to know how to respond in the event of one.
Multi-Car Pileups—More Dangerous and More Complex
How These Accidents Occur
Accidents with multiple vehicles occur most often on freeways and other roads where drivers are moving at high speeds. These crashes may be the result of a chain reaction, where cars are repeatedly encountering some unexpected hazard, one after the other. It’s also common for a motorist to come upon a crash that’s already happened, fail to react, and cause a “secondary” accident that compounds the damage of the first.
Increased Chance of Severe Injury
Multi-car accidents tend to result in more severe injuries. Multiple impacts mean multiple chances for serious bodily harm to occur. For example, if a driver’s airbag has deployed as a result of the first impact, then the driver will not have this protection in a subsequent impact. Drivers who hastily remove their seatbelts and/or exit their vehicles may leave themselves vulnerable to follow-on collisions while on foot.
Multi-vehicle accidents also pose a higher risk of fire and explosion because of the damage to numerous cars, particularly where secondary impacts are involved. These accidents are also more taxing on the services of first responders, as more personnel are needed to effectively treat all of the affected parties. On occasion, it is the first response vehicles themselves that become entangled in follow-on accidents.
Multi-car crashes are decidedly more difficult to investigate than two-vehicle collisions. Multiple parties, witnesses, and vehicles make crash scene investigators’ jobs more challenging as they attempt to accurately determine the cause of the accident and assign fault. In addition to taking witness statements, investigators must examine all of the vehicles along with the markings on the road to create a complete picture of the event.
When You See a Multi-Car Crash
Drivers who witness a multi-car accident can do their part to help the response and rescue go smoothly. Follow these tips if you encounter an accident:
- If the accident appears to have just happened and no emergency personnel are on site, contact 911 and give them the location and any other relevant details.
- Slow down as you drive past the aftermath of the accident, maintaining a patient attitude. The health of those involved is the top priority, so kindly offer same the courtesy you would want if you or a loved one were involved.
- Follow officers’ directions as you drive through the scene and watch for lights, signs, and other cues to assist you in navigating around and away from the crash.
- Resist the temptation to “rubberneck”—stopping or slowing to get a glimpse of the wreck. This frustrates other drivers and prevents firsts responders from efficiently doing their jobs. It also places your car at risk of being in a crash. Keep your eyes on your own path and simply move on.
If You’re in a Multi-Car Crash
It’s helpful and important to know what to do if you are involved in a multi-vehicle crash. Follow these guidelines in order to minimize any injuries:
- Turn off your engine and turn on your hazard lights.
- Keep your seatbelt on, remaining in your vehicle immediately after the crash until you are positive that no further collisions will occur.
- If you or a passenger are injured, remain in your vehicle. Rough or improper movement may lead to further injury.
- Exit the vehicle only if it is safe. Move as far away as possible from the accident site.
- Wait for law enforcement and other first responders to arrive, and follow their directions.
- Your health is the top priority. Seek medical treatment for your injuries.
- Exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance info with the other parties. Avoid making statements as to the details of what happened and who was at fault.
- When able, jot down or record notes and details of how you remembered the accident. Memories fade and a multi-car crash involves many players. An accurate account of what took place is important for later proceedings.
- Contact an attorney to discuss the accident. Do not accept any settlement offers from the other parties without speaking to counsel.
If you’re in a multi-car accident or an accident of any type in Atlanta, contact Hasner Law for a free consultation to discuss your situation. The trained attorneys at Hasner Law consistently provide thorough and vigorous legal representation, ensuring that their clients receive the proper settlement for their claims.
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