Twenty cars piled into each other starting at 5 a.m., Thursday, February 28, 2019, on Route 309. According to officials at the scene, there were three separate incidences with the first starting in the northbound lanes near Susquehanna Rd., and then another pileup started near the same spot but in the southbound lanes. A short while later, a third pileup happened north of the first incidences near the Bethlehem Pike merge.
One person was ejected and nine others were injured, but none of the injured were in critical condition. Police said that the crashes were a result of a snow and ice storm that came through a few hours earlier and then did a hard freeze.
On freeways and highways—especially multi-lane—there is a significant risk of multiple-car collisions. This is because of the number of cars traveling in close proximity to one another, and the speeds they are going. Any single accident can set off a multiple-car crash.
Multi-car crashes can be put in two broad categories: chain reaction and pile-up. Each type of crash has different dynamics and each presents their own unique problems for drivers and EMS personnel.
Chain Reaction Crashes
In a true chain-reaction crash, two cars collide in some fashion, and within moments, other cars are drawn into the accident and collide as well. The whole event is usually over within moments, but a lot of damage and severe injuries can result. These types of crashes are known for extensive damage, roll overs, cars crossing the median and/or leaving the roadway.
A Pile-up crash happens when cars come up on the scene of an accident and then are unable to stop, and they pile into the car in front. Sometimes the initial crash can be a chain-reaction crash that also becomes a pileup wreck as other cars approach.
Another dynamic of a pileup wreck is that sometimes when the first collision is over, another pile-up can happen down the road a ways as the cars have to stop. These collisions can be fender-benders to high-impact collisions. Click here to see a video of pile-up crashes on an icy freeway.
Problems with Multi-Car Crashes
After the initial collision, the greatest danger of a multi-car crash is the risk of secondary pileup collisions. When this happens, then many drivers or occupants are at risk for being injured after they had escaped injury in the earlier crash, or they risk a more severe injury by being struck twice, or more. A chain-reaction crash can be compounded by a series of pile-up collisions with people trying to stop.
According to experts, the best thing to do if you are in any crash on a freeway is to stay in your vehicle until told to get out by authorities. This is because of the risk of being hit outside the protection of your car.
Many occupants want to get out because they fear another car coming might hit their car with them in it, but if you are hit outside your car, then you have no protection, and then the collision could be deadly. Of course, there are many times when it’s better to exit the vehicle such as when the vehicle is on fire or you smell leaking fuel.
Multi-car collisions also are difficult for first responders because the scene is often chaotic, and they have to quickly prioritize their efforts to save lives. It might be that a car is on fire and people need to be extracted, or maybe the best thing is to put out flares to keep others from piling into the scene causing more damage and injury.
How is Fault Determined?
When the crash happens, and even shortly after, the issue of fault is of little priority. However, once medical treatment has been given and the injured person is no longer in danger, the issue of fault will become important because the costs associated with a severe injury began to pile up.
At the scene, police will investigate the accident and eventually issue a report giving their conclusions of how the wreck happened. Most of these reports will not directly address fault, and the insurance companies, courts and attorneys will use these to try to determine who was to blame.
Do I Need an Attorney?
It’s up to each injured person whether they get an attorney. However, in multi-car wrecks, there are typically several insurance companies covering the many vehicles, and each one is going to point the finger at the other where liability is concerned.
You need an attorney that understands traffic laws and has experience with multi-car crashes. Talk to the attorneys at Pearce Law Firm, P.C. at (215) 557-6868 or text at 215 880 6164, and start getting someone in your corner. You can also contact us online by clicking here.