Were You in a Chain Reaction Collision?
Most crashes involve either a single vehicle, such as a drunk driver drifting off a country road at night and colliding with a tree, or two vehicles, such as one distracted texter pulling out in front of the other driver who has the right of way. However, some traffic collisions involve three or more parties where a series of events leads to the crash, and the negligent driver who caused the collision may have not even impacted any other road users. Such chain reaction crashes are complex, because there are so many parties and variables involved. These can be difficult to assign liability, especially when the at-fault party fled the scene or did not collide with any other vehicles.
Example of a Chain Reaction Crash
The driver of a white pickup truck is heading east-bound on a four-lane highway. He hears his phone buzz, and reaches to pick it up to see who might be calling. As he does so, he inadvertently drifts out of his lane of traffic to the right, just as a driver of a purple sedan is passing. The driver slams on her brakes and swerves out of the way, just in time to avoid colliding with the white pickup truck. However, in the process of avoiding the white pickup, the driver of the purple sedan loses control of her car and swerves across the entire highway median strip of grass and heads toward the oncoming lane of traffic on the other side of the highway. A semi truck driver sees the purple sedan approaching and slams on the brakes. An SUV driving behind the pickup truck runs into the back of the semi truck, and that driver suffers a traumatic brain injury, whiplash, and facial lacerations. No other parties are injured, as the driver of the purple sedan stops in time before hitting the semi-truck. Who is at fault? Clearly, the driver of the white pickup truck caused the crash, but he most likely fled the scene, possibly unaware of the carnage he just caused.
Let us assume that the driver of the white pickup truck did stop because he knew that he caused the incident. Then what? Is he solely at fault? Possibly, though possibly not. For the sake of this scenario, let us also assume that the driver of the purple sedan was speeding by 15 miles an hour over the speed limit as she made the pass in the right lane, and that the driver of the SUV that rear-ended the semi-truck was tailgating; after all, according to Florida statute 316.0895, following too closely or following at a distance that is not reasonably prudent, is a violation of traffic law. Because three of the four parties involved bear some liability, things just became quite a bit more complicated. Due to Florida’s comparative negligence doctrine, each party’s own negligence decreases the amount they can sue for by their degree of fault. So if the driver of the SUV was tailgating, they may be found 40 percent liable for their injuries, and they would only be able to sue for 60 percent of their damages. Moreover, it becomes complicated determining the degree of fault of the speeding sedan driver, and the phone-grabbing pickup truck driver, as each of their actions lead to the crash.
Smaller Vehicles Do Worse in Multi-Vehicle Collisions
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the occupants of SUVs and pickup trucks are more likely to die in a single-vehicle collision than occupants in sedans or small cars, while the occupants of smaller vehicles fare worse in multi-vehicle collisions, or chain reaction crashes. This is because smaller or lighter vehicles have less structure to absorb the energy of the other vehicle in a collision than SUVs or pickup trucks. Whether an injured victim was the occupant of a small or large vehicle, their injuries are typically serious if the collision occurred at speed or with multiple other vehicles. Common multi-vehicle collision injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Fractured arm or hand;
- Fractured leg;
- Fractured ribs;
- Facial injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Broken collar bone;
- Contusions; and
- Broken nose.
Call a Naples Chain Reaction Collision Attorney Today
If you were injured in a chain reaction crash, you need to work with an experienced Naples personal injury attorney at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A. Call us today at 239-649-8050 to schedule a free consultation so that we can help you recover the compensation that you are owed by the at-fault party or parties.