A recent multi-vehicle accident in San Mateo County left several people injured and tragically left one man dead, according to a Mercury News report. Chain-reaction and multi-vehicle accidents can cause extensive harm to the drivers and passengers involved, including permanent or even fatal injuries. Determining who was legally responsible in an accident like this can be a very complicated task, so be sure to rely upon an experienced San Mateo car accident attorney if you’ve been injured in a chain reaction accident.
The initial trigger for that recent fatal crash was a Ford SUV that experienced a tire blowout while traveling along Highway 101 in Brisbane. The Toyota sedan behind the Ford managed to slow down before hitting the Ford, but the Volkswagen behind the Toyota didn’t, slamming into the rear of the sedan, according to the report.
That impact forced the Toyota into the Ford, pushing the SUV into an adjoining lane. Once the Ford was in that left lane, a bus came along moments later and slammed into it. Then a Lincoln SUV crashed into the bus. A fire burned the bus and two of the other vehicles. The driver of the Lincoln, a 51-year-old man from San Mateo, was killed in the crash, although the Mercury News report didn’t say if the impact or the fire caused his death.
If one goes solely on the information in this news report, some important questions remain unanswered regarding this crash. The answers to these questions may provide essential information for determining who was at fault and legally liable.
In some situations, chain-reaction accidents may have exactly one driver who was 100% responsible for the entire accident. For example, in 2012, a Sacramento-area family, who was moving back home from Maryland, all died in stopped traffic on an interstate highway in Nebraska. A sleeping trucker crashed into the father’s Ford Mustang, pushing the Ford into the mother’s Toyota Corolla, which in turn sent the Toyota into the rear of another big rig, causing both passenger vehicles to burst into flames. In 2016, a Minnesota family of five died on Nebraska highway when a distracted trucker crashed into their minivan, which triggered a chain-reaction accident and a fire that consumed the minivan.
Getting to the bottom of who was to blame in a chain-reaction crash
A lot of times, though, these accidents have more potential “gray area,” and require careful and extensive discovery to get a clear picture of what happened and who was at fault. For example, along a hypothetical roadway, say the second car in a lane rear-ends the front car. Then the third car rear-ends the second and then the fourth rear-ends the third. If the lead car was permissibly and properly stopped, then the second car would likely be liable for that first impact.
But, when it comes to the second and third impacts, liability would vary depending on many questions. For one thing, you may need to discover whether driver #3 or #4 was speeding, distracted, sleepy or intoxicated. Many chain-reaction accidents may involve a driver who was sleepy, distracted or speeding and hit the brakes too late, or didn’t brake at all. Other times, chain reaction accidents happen because a driver was going too fast for the rainy or otherwise slick road conditions.
Another key answer may be discovering whether the accident in front of driver #3 or #4 was something that a reasonable driver should have seen or was it hidden from view. A certain percentage of chain-reaction accidents happen because of reduced visibility due to blind curves, intersections with sight-line obstructions, or weather phenomena (such as extremely dense fog or whiteout snow conditions.) The answers to each of these variable conditions may alter who is liable to you for your injuries, and in what percentage amount.
Getting to these answers is something where an experienced attorney can help immensely. Depending on the unique facts of your case, your attorney can ascertain what proof your case needs, and how to go about collecting it, whether that proof is photographic evidence, eyewitness testimony, opinion evidence from expert witnesses (like accident reconstructionists) or something else. To get the reliable and effective advice and advocacy you deserve, contact the hardworking San Mateo car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos. Our attorneys have accumulated many years of experience, providing the effective legal representation our clients deserve. To set up a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, contact us at 650-345-8484 or through our website.