Multi-vehicle accidents, or “pile-ups,” pose a considerable risk of injury or death to drivers on Illinois roads. These accidents can happen on highways, city streets, or country roads. They can be caused by everything from drunk drivers to icy roads. Personal injuries and wrongful deaths are common in multi-vehicle accidents, and individuals who have been involved in a “pile up” should contact a Lake County car accident lawyer to discuss their legal options.
Multi-Vehicle Accidents are Common & Dangerous
Every 60 seconds, there is a car accident on American roads. Nearly 1/3 of these accidents involve 3 or more vehicles. When a multi-vehicle collision occurs, individuals are at risk for being struck from multiple directions during the accident. These multiple impacts can weaken and degrade the effectiveness of safety systems within their vehicle. It can also increase the complexity of wounds and injuries victims may suffer.
Multi-vehicle accidents are commonly caused by bad weather conditions, speeding, drivers falling asleep at the wheel, drugs/alcohol, or drivers becoming distracted by cell phones, food, or other things that take their attention off the road. These factors may occur individually, or in combination with one another. When they cause a multi-vehicle crash, the results can be downright deadly.
Cars Deadlier than Pickups or SUVs
In 2014, car drivers or their passengers suffered 7,122 of the fatalities that occurred in multi-vehicle accidents. 3,806 of these were caused by frontal impacts, while 2,582 were caused by side impacts, and 620 were caused by rear impacts.
Pickup drivers or their passengers represent the second largest group of victims in multi-vehicle collisions. In 2014, 1,048 drivers or passengers were killed by frontal impacts. A further 408 were killed by side impacts, and 120 died from rear impacts.
SUV’s were roughly as dangerous as pick-ups when involved in multi-vehicle accidents. In 2014, 927 drivers or passengers were killed by frontal impacts, while 466 died from side impacts, and 161 died from rear impacts.
Other common causes of deaths within multi-vehicle collisions are rollovers and fires.
Fire a Deadly Danger
Multi-vehicle accidents also pose a considerable risk of fire. The multiple impacts vehicles can suffer can easily rupture gas tanks and cause fuel to spill over vehicle occupants. One spark can ignite these fumes and quickly turn a dangerous situation into a deadly reality. In a multi-vehicle collision, it is not uncommon for victims to be trapped within their vehicles and unable to escape fires that can rapidly race through the accident scene.
In extreme scenarios, law enforcement and responding firefighters may not know exactly how many vehicles are involved in the accident. Thus, they may not work to put out the fire in an area where they are unaware there is another vehicle. This can cause victims to be neglected and denied the assistance they need which can lead to tragic, often fatal results.
In fact, it is quite possible that this was the fate of a woman who was found dead following a fire resulting from a multi-vehicle crash in Chicago in late July. The fire erupted after a truck carrying nearly 18,000 pounds of paint struck multiple vehicles on I-55. It took firefighters nearly 30 minutes to put out the flames, and it was only after the fire was extinguished that the presence of a fifth vehicle was discovered.
Injuries Caused by Multi-Vehicle Accidents
Multi-vehicle accidents often cause victims to be tossed about inside their vehicles. Victims may experience a frontal collision followed by impacts to the side or rear of their vehicle. These multiple impact points can cause compound fractures, concussions, deep lacerations to multiple areas of the body, as well as severe internal injuries. These multiple impacts may also cause whiplash and significant tears to muscles and joints when in short order they are moved in different directions before the brain can position the body to absorb the impacts. These multiple injuries can make it difficult to administer the proper First Aid as it may not be clear which body parts and organ systems have been injured in the crash.
Assigning Fault in a Multi-Vehicle Accident
It can be difficult to assign 100% fault in a multi-vehicle accident. Many factors can come into play including aggressive driving, road conditions, driver distractions, etc. If the accident involved one or more government vehicles, such as a snow plow owned by the city, the government agency may share liability. For this reason, it is necessary for a Lake County car accident lawyer to carefully review accident reports and details from the crash investigation. These reports and the evidence from the crash are the best way to determine the chain of events that caused the crash in order to determine who is at fault, and the percentage of the responsibility they bear for causing the accident. In multi-vehicle accidents, the fault may be assigned to several different drivers following the completion of the investigation.