“I’ve been in a Tampa multiple vehicle collision and my insurance company won’t pay. What can I do?”
Let our expert Tampa car collision lawyers investigate the wreck and fight to obtain the compensation you and your family deserve.
An automobile wreck takes place every minute on every day in the United States, totaling almost 6 million crashes per year according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Nearly one-third of these traffic wrecks are multi-car collisions, or “pile ups.”
If you or a loved one have been affected by a multi-car wreck, you need an experienced collision lawyer to fight for your rights. At Lorenzo & Lorenzo, our Tampa car collision attorneys have the expertise and background needed to investigate complex pile-up cases and ensure the best possible outcome for your injury claim.
Multi-car wrecks are devastating.
Our Tampa collision lawyers can help you recover.
What is a pile up crash?
“Pile up” is a colloquial term for a car collision involving more than two vehicles (also known as a multi-car-collision, chain reaction crash and multiple vehicle accident). Multi-car collisions are a relatively common occurrence in the United States, and they often result in at least one serious injury or wrongful death.
By nature, large-scale pile ups are especially dangerous because it is often difficult for individuals involved to escape from the mass of colliding vehicles. In addition, vehicle occupants can be struck multiple times at a high rate of speed, which increases the risk of injury to passengers who were protected during the initial impact thanks to airbags and safety restraints.
Fires and explosions are also a more common occurrence in multi-car wrecks, and the extent of damage can make it difficult for local rescue services (police, fire, ambulance, etc.) to reach victims in time.
The biggest multi-car wreck in Tampa – and one of the worst highway disasters in Florida history – took place along Interstate 4 in 2008. Four people lost their lives and 38 were injured in this 70-car pileup caused by extremely low visibility due to heavy fog and smoke from a nearby controlled burn. Lawsuits reached into the millions as various parties fought over who was responsible.
What are some common causes of multiple vehicle pile-ups?
Pile-up crashes come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the most frequent causes of multi-car traffic wrecks include:
- Poor visibility. Inclement weather that creates low visibility conditions, such as rain or fog, is one of the most common causes of multi-car pile ups. Some of the biggest auto wrecks in history have been caused heavy fog, including a 140-vehicle wreck in Southeast Texas in 2012. Fog is a particularly troublesome issue for Tampa drivers as cold ocean air passes over the warm, moist inland air.
- Road conditions. Weather can also create poor driving conditions due to rain, sleet, ice, wind and other natural elements. For instance, a 130-car pileup in North Carolina, thought to be the result of slippery roads caused by thunderstorms in the area, occurred in March 2016.
- Reckless driving. When traveling at high speeds, one wrong move can trigger a chain reaction of deadly events that result in a pileup crash. Reckless driving behaviors such as speeding, tailgating, darting between lanes and sudden stops are regularly to blame for multi-vehicle collisions.
- Drowsy driving. Falling asleep behind the wheel, even for a split second, can have deadly consequences. Pileups are regularly caused by drowsy truck drivers and motorists who lose control of their vehicle on the highway and careen into nearby automobiles.
- Drunk driving. Intoxicated drivers who get behind the wheel put everyone’s lives at risk, not just their own. Alcohol, prescription drugs and illegal drugs alter a person’s sense of depth perception, making a pile up crash more likely.
- Distracted driving. One of the top causes of multi-vehicle collisions – and car accidents in general – is driving while distracted. A majority of distracted driving-related accidents involve cell phone use such as texting, talking or checking email while operating a vehicle. Other distractions include eating, drinking, other passengers and looking at directions. Taking your attention off the road, even just for a second, can cause a chain reaction pileup event that results in major destruction.
- Police chases. While not as common, high-speed police chases have been known to cause pile-up accidents while law enforcement attempts to pursue a fleeing criminal.
- Vehicle malfunction. Sometimes a single vehicle can malfunction, causing a chain reaction of collisions that result in a multi-car wreck. In July 2016, a truck crashed into 5 motorcycles, 3 cars, and 2 semi-permanent buildings in Indonesia due to brake failure.
In many pile-up wrecks, there may be multiple causes for the car accident. For example, a combination of heavy fog and reckless driving might be to blame. This dynamic can quickly complicate these types of cases and make liability difficult to pin down.
How to Determine Fault in a Multi-Car Accident
One of the most complex and challenging aspects of a pile-up accident is determining who is at fault and who pays for damages. Multi-car wrecks are often a chain reaction event, meaning that there is frequently a grueling legal battle over who is assigned liability for the accident. Also, the damages involved in a pile up crash are typically very high and insurance companies are seldom willing to pay without a fight.
To determine who is liable for paying damages in a pile-up crash, an investigator will examine the evidence to identify the responsible party and underlying cause.
For instance, if one driver failed to exercise a reasonable duty of care by driving recklessly, then their actions are considered negligent and they may be held liable for damages to the victims (plaintiffs).
To determine fault, investigators will ask questions like:
- Who crashed first? Why?
- Was anyone speeding, tailgating or driving recklessly?
- Was anyone on their cell phone?
- Were there mitigating circumstances?
- Were there multiple negligent drivers?
Because Florida is a comparative fault state, a plaintiff’s final compensation award may be adjusted depending on the percentage he or she is determined to be responsible for the accident. For instance, if a driver is 10 percent responsible for the multi-car wreck, the opposing side will only be liable for up to 90 percent of the plaintiff’s total damages.
In rare cases, investigators may determine that mitigating (explanatory) circumstances caused the collision such as an unforeseen obstacle in the road or one of the drivers experiencing a sudden health problem. These cases are few and far between, however. A majority of car accidents can be attributed to someone else’s negligence.
Contact an Expert Tampa Auto Wreck Lawyer Who Can Successfully Navigate Pile-Up Crash Cases
We have successfully represented clients in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and throughout the state of Florida.
If you or a loved one were involved in a pile-up crash, you should contact your automobile insurer immediately to see if your medicals costs and other damages are covered. If your insurer denies you coverage, you’ll want to contact a local car accident attorney who specializes in these types of cases to learn about pursuing a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.
Our skilled Tampa auto wreck attorneys specialize in all types of car accident claims, including multi-vehicle pileup crashes. Our 24/7 availability, trial-ready experience and strong commitment to giving each client the personal attention they deserve enables our firm to handle the most complex cases with ease.