Determining Fault in a Multiple-Vehicle Crashes

If you spend a lot of time on New Mexico’s highways, one of your worst fears is probably being involved in a multi-car pileup. We see these horrific crashes on the news and thank our lucky stars that it didn’t happen to us. However, if the terrible day comes when you find yourself in the middle of a 30-car pileup, and you need help determining who is responsible for your medical bills and lost wages, we are here for you. Our car accident legal team has decades of experience representing injured victims, and we will get to work for you.

How Do Highway Pileups Happen?

The scary thing about a multi-vehicle crash is that there is usually nothing you can do to protect yourself once the chain reaction has started. On a busy highway, Two-Car Read-End Accidentthere are very few escape routes when traffic comes to a sudden stop. Even if you manage to avoid hitting the car in front of you, you could get slammed from behind and pushed into the car in front of you. What events usually start these pileups? The following are some of the most common causes:

  • Weather. A sudden snow squall or dust storm could temporarily blind drivers, causing them to slam on the brakes and start a chain reaction of collisions. Icy road conditions could cause more than one driver to suddenly lose control and crash into one another. Sudden heavy downpours and flash flooding can also impact more than one driver on the highway.
  • Road construction. When highway construction forces multiple lanes down to one or two, drivers who are not prepared for the merge could brake suddenly or merge without checking for other cars. On a congested road, this could lead to a pileup.
  • Semi-trucks. A reckless or careless trucker holds the lives of hundreds of motorists in their hands. If a truck driver loses control and jackknifes, he could block multiple lanes of traffic, causing a collision involving many drivers. With hundreds of thousands of tractor-trailers on the road every day, this is a real risk.
  • Cargo spills. When a truck hauling cargo loses its load and debris is scattered across the highway, multiple drivers will be affected. Likewise, a tanker carrying a liquid that overturns and leaks on the highway is also a major hazard. In a worst-case scenario, a trucker loses a hazardous material (hazmat), and other drivers are endangered by more than just the impact of a collision.
  • Distracted drivers. Weather, construction, and road conditions would cause fewer accidents if all drivers were attentive behind the wheel. Unfortunately, all it takes is one driver sending a text or eating a hamburger to fail to see a hazard in time to stop. On a busy road, this could create a domino effect that leaves dozens of people injured.
  • Drunk or impaired drivers. Drunk or drugged drivers have been known to make mistakes such as entering a highway in the wrong direction or crossing a median to the other side of the highway. These kinds of actions can impact dozens of drivers.

These factors could cause a catastrophic two-car crash, or a major highway pileup, depending on the level of traffic and the reactions of other drivers. In many multi-vehicle collisions, more than one driver could be held liable for causing the crash.

Who Can Be Held Liable for Your Injuries?

Crashes involving multiple vehicles also involve multiple insurance companies and multiple claimants. As insurance companies play hot potato with taking the blame for the crash, you need to look out for your own interests. When there are several liable parties and many victims, you need to make sure you have an attorney who is only fighting for you. You also need an experienced law firm that knows how to build a case and will advocate for the damages you deserve.

So, who is responsible for compensating you after a multi-vehicle crash? As your attorney, we would start looking for the driver who set off the chain reaction. Even if weather or road conditions played a part, the first driver to slam on their brakes or lose control should be found at fault. After that, we would look at the driver or drivers who actually hit your car. Did they fail to keep a safe following distance? Were they distracted, fatigued, or impaired? Even if another driver made the initial mistake, other drivers could be held responsible if they also acted negligently.

What Damages Could You Be Owed?

If your injuries were minor and you have collision coverage for property damage, you might not need to look further than your own car insurance. However, if you suffered a traumatic brain injury, broken pelvis, damaged spinal cord, or another catastrophic injury, the negligent driver’s insurance company should be held responsible for covering the following:

  • Current and future medical bills, including ongoing therapy, assistive devices, and in-home or rehabilitation center care
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Past and future lost wages
  • Punitive damages

The car accident attorneys at Keller & Keller know how to document losses and negotiate for the settlement you need for medical bills and ongoing—sometimes even lifelong—care.

What If a Loved One Died in a Multi-Vehicle Crash?

If you lost a family member in a multi-vehicle crash, you might have grounds for a wrongful death claim against the liable party or parties. Wrongful death claims can be brought by immediate family members of the deceased or by their estate to pay for medical expenses incurred between the crash and the victim’s death, funeral costs, dependents’ loss of income, and mental anguish suffered by survivors. 

Trust the Experienced Attorneys at Keller & Keller

Fortunately, catastrophic multi-vehicle pileups are rare on New Mexico’s highways. But that fact doesn’t help you if you are caught in the middle of one. From a liability standpoint, these are very complex cases, and you should contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash to ensure that your claim for compensation is as strong as it can be. Reach out to Keller & Keller in Albuquerque for help.

 

James R. Keller
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Partner at Keller & Keller