A car crash takes place every 6 minutes somewhere in the US. This amounts to about 14,386 accidents daily. Since 43% of these traffic accidents result in injuries, you’re far from alone if you have recently been hurt in a pileup.
A multiple-car accident can lead to serious vehicular injuries and more vehicle damage than a single collision. Here, we’re going to discuss what next steps to take after involvement in a multi-car accident.
Read on to learn initial tips, future steps, and how to get financial compensation after a crash.
What to Do Immediately After a Pileup
Some pile-ups happen when a car rear-ends another car stopped too close to the vehicle in front of them. This sets a chain reaction into effect and creates a multiple-car accident.
Other times, a car will brake too quickly when driving too close to another vehicle on the highway. Sometimes a distracted driver may simply attempt to go faster than the vehicle in front of them. This can fling cars forward on the road and cause them to hit other vehicles in the distance.
Regardless of the cause, the first thing to do after any auto accident is tend to any injuries that you have. Common things to look out for include:
- Head injuries (concussions, scraping, cracks, bumps, bruises)
- Face injuries (eye damage, scarring, bleeding)
- Numbness and tingling in the limbs that might indicate spinal cord or nerve damage
- Broken or bruised bones (including ribs)
- Sprains, strains, and bruising
- Limb dislocation
Assess yourself carefully.
If you notice any of these injuries, immediately contact emergency medical services. Your safety is the top priority. You can take care of the rest as soon as you are no longer in physical danger.
If you are unsure of whether or not you have sustained injuries, contact EMS anyway. The same applies if you don’t know whether or not they’re serious. You can’t know for sure whether or not you have sustained serious vehicular injuries without a professional assessment, and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Contact the Authorities
Calling 911 is important if you sustain injuries because it gets an ambulance on-site. However, even if you are unharmed, you need to call the police. They will assess the initial damage and take photos of the crime scene.
More importantly, they will also help you file a police report. This will include your initial assessment of the accident, road conditions, and what the other driver(s) could have done to prevent the crash. It also will give you the chance to write down vehicle damage details and information about injuries.
If you are too injured to do so and need to immediately seek the paramedics, ask the police to document this information for you. You can request it later.
Gather Information at the Accident Scene
While you wait for the police to show up, exchange contact information with all other drivers involved in the pile-up.
It doesn’t matter if someone was in the car you directly hit or if they were 3 cars away in a chain reaction. A multi-car accident involves all drivers that were hit, so your experience was related to those of everyone else.
Contact information isn’t all that you should gather. You should take photos of all of your injuries if applicable. This photographic documentation can help you when you contact a lawyer later.
You also should take photos of every other car involved in the pile-up and note their locations in relation to each other. It will be easier to put together a report later when you know all vehicle positions and the damage that each one sustained.
Ask for eyewitness reports when possible. Take photos of the other car’s license plates and match them to the other driver’s contact information.
Don’t Make Common Mistakes
It can be tempting to apologize to other drivers at the scene of the accident. Unfortunately, saying things like “sorry I didn’t see you there” or “wow, my car hit yours harder than I thought” can be damning.
Other drivers may record these statements in their police reports. If anyone else overheard you say them, the authorities may take it as an admission of fault. You may be held financially responsible for the damages of other drivers even if you were not responsible for the automobile accident.
You also do not want to post about the collision on social media. In future negotiations, insurance companies and courts may take this out of context and say that you did not suffer much or sustain serious injuries. After all, you were well enough to post about the accident online.
You also may accidentally say something on the web that authorities or lawyers take as an admission of fault. It’s best to avoid putting anything in writing online.
Setting Up a Legal Case
It may be tempting to call your insurance company and report the accident right away, but this is a bad idea. Anything you say can and will be held against you, and insurance agents are seasoned in tripping people up. They want to pay the lowest figure possible, which means that you won’t get your due damages if you say the wrong thing.
Car crash lawyers are experienced in talking to insurance companies. They know what to say to get the most information. They also know what not to say so they don’t accidentally admit fault.
Once you’re home and safe, contact a top-notch attorney immediately. Look online and find an attorney who has resolved claims similar to yours by reaching settlements for hundreds of thousands of dollars or more. At Sweet Lawyers, we do this consistently, sometimes reaching $10 million post-accident settlements for clients.
Schedule a consultation to learn more about why we’re a good fit. Consultations aren’t contracts, and you’re not committing to anything. You’re simply gathering information about our process, near-perfect success rate, and winnings-based contingency fees.
Once you choose an attorney and sign on with them, you can begin gathering evidence together.
When setting up a case with your lawyer, you’ll need to show them all the information that you initially gathered at your accident site. Photos are critical here. So is the identifying information that you recorded about other drivers and your location.
You also will need to request copies of police reports. This will give your attorney a clearer picture of what happened. Copies of medical bills are also essential so your lawyer can figure out how much compensation they can realistically get for you.
At this point, your attorney will also begin to gather evidence of their own. They’ll request copies of security footage so they can see the accident play out. They also will take photos of the accident site and potential hazards there while reconstructing what may have happened.
All of this will help them determine what caused the accident and who was at fault.
Determining the Cause of the Multiple Car Accidents
The primary cause of single-car accidents is speeding. About 50% of annual US crashes happen because of aggressive driving, and speeding is the most significant contributor to this figure. Drivers also go over the speed limit about half the time, which makes this a big problem on American roads.
Driving while intoxicated is another leading contributor to high crash and accident fatality figures. About 28.4% of drivers killed in fatal car crashes had a BAC over the legal limit.
Distracted driving is also a primary car accident cause. Those involved in these accidents may have been texting, immersed in talking on the phone, exhausted, fiddling with the radio, or playing with GPS devices.
Other single-car accident causes are harsh weather conditions, running stoplights and stop signs, night driving, and teenage drivers.
These causes are often initially issues in a pile-up. The first driver to hit another car is, after all, taking action leading to a single automobile accident. Multi-car accidents happen subsequently, and there are several possible reasons that other cars may be involved.
Multiple-impact car accidents often happen when cars are:
- Traveling too close to the vehicle in front of them (by not leaving a full car length between the two automobiles)
- Parking/stopping at lights too close to the vehicle in front of them
- Traveling too fast for traffic and weather conditions (and not obeying speed limits)
- Not paying attention to the road and failing to brake on time
- Braking too suddenly with a car in front of them
Oftentimes, it will be a combination of many factors listed above.
Your lawyer will try to figure out if anyone was driving recklessly and irresponsibly. This can make it much easier to prove that you were a victim rather than an at-fault party.
California, Washington, and Arizona are all comparative fault states. This means that drivers can be partially responsible for accidents. For example, if you were speeding while the driver behind you was texting and intoxicated, you may be 10% at fault while they were 90% at fault.
In multi-car accidents, there are more people to distribute fault between. You might be 5% at fault for the accident while another driver is at 20%. A third driver may be at 25% while the most at-fault driver is 50% responsible.
The less at fault you are, the more money you stand to gain.
The attorney handling your case will assess all the evidence. They will report their findings to you and let you know what percentage of fault your bear. At this point, they will decide what constitutes fair and reasonable compensation for your specific scenario.
After a multiple-car accident, there are several types of compensation you may be eligible for:
- Medical bill coverage
- Damages to cover lost wages
- Compensation for temporary or permanent disability
- Financial damages related to visible injuries/disfigurement
- Non-economic damages for pain and suffering
Once your attorney communicates about the damages you can expect, they will begin the settlement process.
This process consists of talking with the insurance companies of other automobiles involved in the pile-up. Your lawyer will use their experience and skills to negotiate the best possible settlement for you. There will be several early offers that you shouldn’t take before a high-quality and fair settlement comes.
During this process, you must follow your lawyer’s advice to the letter. They know how to maximize your damages to that all of your bills are covered.
The best personal injury and car crash lawyers operate on contingency. This means that you pay nothing unless you win your case. Once you do, you will only pay them a pre-determined percentage of your winnings, meaning that you will gain more money than you pay.
This also provides you with concrete knowledge that your attorney is motivated to do their best work on your case. The more you get paid, the more they do, too.
Recover Post-Collision Damages ASAP
A multiple-car accident can be stressful, painful, and traumatic. Luckily, compensation is available for those involved in a pile-up. Sweetlaw is committed to ensuring that you can get the funds you’re due so you can get your life back on track after your recent automobile accident.
We serve affected individuals and families across California, Arizona, and Washington. With a 98% success rate and contingency-based fees, our team will assist you in the most stress-free and impactful way possible.
We’re excited to help you figure out the next steps and put together a case. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about your multi-car accident with no obligations.