Car accidents that involve three or more vehicles are often referred to as multi-vehicle accidents or chain-reaction accidents. According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, multi-vehicle crashes represented approximately 7 percent of all crashes but they accounted for over 25 percent of all fatal injuries.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that multi-vehicle accidents typically make up less than 10 percent of all collisions in a given year, but they produce a disproportionate percentage of fatal injuries.
Causes of Multi-Vehicle Accidents
A multi-vehicle accident typically begins with an initial two-vehicle collision. If that first collision then spurs secondary collisions, creating a chain reaction, the overall accident is referred to as a multi-vehicle or chain-reaction collision.
A chain-reaction crash can occur under many circumstances. However, there are some common scenarios that frequently lead to a multi-vehicle accident, including:
- Rear-end collisions – When one driver fails to stop, rear-ending the car in front, it can set off a chain reaction that may involve numerous vehicles. According to the NYSDMV, following too closely was a contributing factor in almost 13 percent of all collisions for 2011, landing it in the top three for contributing human factors in collisions.
- Intersection collisions – When a motorist fails to yield right of way at an intersection or tries to “make the light,” it can cause a devastating multi-vehicle accident. Failure to yield right of way was also among the top three human error contributing factors for 2011.
- Lane-departure collisions – These include crashes where a driver fails to keep his or her vehicle in the proper lane of traffic. When a vehicle drifts over the center line and into oncoming traffic, it can cause a multi-vehicle collision.
Just as there are some common scenarios that lead to chain-reaction accidents, there are also common contributing factors, including:
- Impaired driving – Overall, figures are down across the country for alcohol-related collisions. However, impaired driving remains one of the top five reasons for collisions of all types across the nation.
- Distracted driving – Despite laws in both New York and New Jersey that prohibit handheld devices and texting while driving, motorists often ignore the bans. Along with other traditional sources of distraction, cell phones have made distracted driving the No. 1 contributing factor in 2011 crashes in New York according to the NYSDMV.
- Fatigued driving – Experts have long warned drivers about the danger of driving when drowsy. Recent studies have actually shown that driving without the necessary rest prior to getting behind the wheel can make a motorist as dangerous as an impaired driver.
- Reckless driving – Driving behaviors such as speeding, improper passing and failure to yield are all behaviors that contribute to a large majority of multi-vehicle accidents.
- Weather conditions – New York and New Jersey have unpredictable and changing weather conditions throughout the year. Unsafe driving in rain, ice, snow and especially fog are often factors in chain-reaction accidents.
Compensation in a Multi-Vehicle Collision
Although both New York and New Jersey operate under no-fault insurance rules, the issue of negligence is still relevant in many car accidents, especially in multi-vehicle accidents that cause serious injuries. Negligence is the legal term used to refer to fault or blame in a collision.
When a victim’s injuries are serious, the victim may be able to file a traditional personal injury lawsuit to recover damages beyond what is available under no-fault insurance. In that case, it is essential to determine which parties were at fault for the accident.
Determining negligence in a multi-vehicle collision can be tricky. Often, more than one party shares the blame. Although one driver may have initiated the chain reaction, other drivers’ negligence may have contributed to the pile-up.
It costs you nothing to talk with one of our knowledgeable personal injury attorneys. We offer free consultations. We receive compensation only if you win your case. Call us now at 1-888-GINARTE (1-888-446-2783). You can also fill out our online contact form.
The Ginarte law firm has offices located in New York City, Queens, Newark, Elizabeth, Clifton, Union City and Perth Amboy.