Chicago Multi Car Accident Attorney
When there’s an accident involving more than two vehicles, there can be multiple drivers at fault.
We often hear on the news about a multiple-vehicle collisions on the I-57, Kennedy Expressway or another Chicago thoroughfare without giving it much thought. But if you’re the one involved in a multiple-car pile up, the magnitude of the property damage, injuries and expenses incurred can be shocking. Costs in fatal crashes can exceed millions of dollars. Equally shocking is the fact that these accidents can result in fierce legal battles that last for months or even years.
Why are multi car accidents so complicated?
When there’s an accident involving more than two vehicles, there can be multiple drivers at fault. For example, one car may slam into second car, which then slams into a third car. The first driver may be at fault for the initial crash. But if the second driver happened to be texting at the moment of the accident and could have otherwise avoided slamming into the third car, the second driver may be at fault also. Facts such as these often take a great deal of time to discover and untangle.
Why is the question of fault so important?
Insurance companies need to know who is at fault to determine who should be held financially responsible for the collision and resulting damage and injuries. When multiple parties are to blame, the cost is apportioned between insurance companies.
This is due to Illinois’s “comparative negligence” rule. In this system, each party’s fault is compared in terms of percentages, leaving each party liable to pay for their respective percentage of fault.
Example: Cars A and B are stopped at a red light, though Car B has no brake lights on. Car C comes speeding from behind and fails to stop in time, rear-ending Car B. In turn, Car B smashes into the vehicle in front. In this accident, Car C may be found responsible for 90 percent of the damages, while the 10 percent falls on Car B.
This is important even when you are the plaintiff (claimant) in a multi-vehicle crash case. If you are found to be partly at-fault in the accident, your compensation could be reduced accordingly. For instance, if you were 10 percent liable, you may receive only 90 percent of your total payment.
In addition, Illinois follows the “modified comparative negligence” doctrine with a 51 percent bar. It requires that you must not be more liable than other parties if you wish to claim damages. Your fault in the wreck must therefore not be 51 percent or more. If you reach this threshold, you would not receive any compensation at all.
Hire a lawyer to help you pursue every at-fault party in your accident, ensuring your maximum compensation.
How is the question of fault determined?
The police, insurance investigators, and personal injury attorneys examine every detail of the accident, reconstructing it to figure out exactly what occurred. To determine which parties caused the accident, they consider questions such as:
- where is the damage on each car?
- were any of the parties speeding? driving distracted? driving under the influence?
- was there equipment failure in any of the vehicles?
- was there defective road design?
- did the weather play a role?
- did a pedestrian or cyclist play a role?
Each of these can determine what percentage at fault each driver was and can have an impact on the damages that can be recovered.
Be extremely cautious with your words and actions while the accident is investigated. Police reports are often relied on to determine the fault in an accident. Before giving your statement to the police, take a deep breath and gather your thoughts. Even saying “I’m sorry” could be taken as an admission of fault. Remain courteous and honest with law enforcement officers but stick to the facts. Don’t say more than needed. Most importantly, enlist an accident attorney to speak for you, helping you avoid costly mistakes in the course of your case.
I have insurance and their investigator is looking into the crash. Why should I also have a multi-vehicle accident attorney?
When an insurance company investigates a crash, they are not representing your interests but their own. Insurance companies want to make sure that they don’t have to pay you one penny more than they have to – and they’ll be looking for ways to do just that. Many accident victims receive much less than needed because of the “delay, deny, defend” tactics of insurers.
Protecting your interests is best done by hiring a personal injury attorney from a trusted law firm. That lawyer would thoroughly investigate your accident and examine all legal avenues to maximize your payout. He or she would also collect evidence to support your claim, and strategically build an effective case for you.
When facing insurance adjusters and negotiators, your attorney should skillfully and aggressively fight for what you are entitled to. In addition, your lawyer can help you avoid situations, actions, or statements that could be used against your claim.
Instead of pursuing your claim by yourself, look for an attorney experienced in vehicle wrecks like yours, with a proven track record of helping real people.
Multiple Vehicle Collisions
The more vehicles involved in a collision, the more likely the victims will suffer severe injuries.
Most motor vehicle accidents involve two vehicles; however, some collisions involve multiple vehicles. The more number of vehicles involved in a collision, the more likely the victims will suffer severe injuries and property damage. Considering the high traffic volume in Chicago, multi-car accidents are more common than you think.
What Should I do If I have Been Involved in a Car Crash?
On the Scene
- Turn on your hazards so others know you are stopped, and they have enough time to slow down.
- Remain in your car and with your seatbelt fastened until police or emergency services tell you it is safe. If there is a major pile up or weather is keeping people from stopping in time to avoid contributing to the collision, cars can continue to be rear ended which can create dangerous situations for people if they get out of their vehicle.
- Briefly gather your thoughts and composure before speaking to police. Be honest but keep your statement short and to the point.
- If you can do so safely, take photos of the scene, your car, and the other persons car. Pictures of skid marks, blocked traffic, and any damage to the surrounding area can all help to determine liability.
- See if there are any witnesses. Get their names and contact information as they could help in any liability issues that arise.
- Get the names and contact information of any person who was a witness to the accident.
- Seek any medical help you may need for any injuries you sustained. It is always better to get checked out as soon as possible after an accident to detect any injuries you may have sustained. While some injuries can be immediately noticeable and painful, some can be only minor pain or can develop into something much more serious over time.
- Notify your insurance as soon as possible that you have been in an accident.
- If you have been involved in a car accident that was caused by another driver, contact an attorney at Willens Law Offices. We will help ensure you get fair compensation.
Major Multi-Vehicle Wrecks In Chicago
With the confusing intersections and rush-hour jams in and around Chicago, multi-car pileups are unfortunately common. The city has had several pileups in just the last few months that resulted in devastating injuries and deaths.
- In February 2019, six people were injured in a South State Street crash involving five cars.
- A few days later, two men were seriously hurt in an intersection wreck at Cornell Drive and Hayes Drive.
- Another crash, this time in Ogle County, involved a semitrailer, a commercial vehicle, and a police squad car. It injured an Illinois State Police trooper.
- In March, a Downers Grove wrong-way driver instigated a chain reaction crash with three other vehicles. Two people were killed and three others injured.
- In December 2018, one man tragically died after a four-vehicle wreck on the Kennedy Expressway.
These are only some of the recent catastrophic accidents in the Chicago metro area. If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash like these, reach out to us at Willens Law Offices for legal help.
Intersections are the most common location for multiple vehicle accidents because this is the place where vehicles converge. A distracted or an intoxicated driver at a four-way stop can cause a multiple vehicle accident by failing to yield the right of way. The possibility of a multi-vehicle collision increases further when the intersections have unique designs. This more commonly occurs at older intersections where three streets intersect. To minimize your likelihood of a crash at such an intersection, use extra precaution whenever the intersection is a unique design. If the driver is distracted or intoxicated, he or she may not see the third street and remain unaware of oncoming traffic.
Chicago is an older city and many streets intersect haphazardly with high traffic roads converging in strange patterns and at unusual angles. Those who drive on these roads regularly are familiar with them but those who are new to them are at a high risk of being involved in a collision. For this reason, tourists are at a higher risk of an accident, because they may be unfamiliar with an intersection that has a unique or atypical design. Therefore, keep an eye out for plates from other states and be on the lookout for them to rapidly change lanes if they are unaware of the street layouts.
Some of the most dangerous crossings in Chicagoland are:
- Stony Island Avenue at South Chicago Avenue –a diagonal intersection and a link to the Chicago Skyway
- Western Avenue at Peterson Avenue –numerous lanes, heavy traffic, and several car dealerships around
- Kedzie Avenue at Belmont Avenue –diagonal one-way roads adding to motorists’ confusion.
For more information on Chicago’s risky intersections, read our report here.
Highways and Rush Hour
Another common location for multi-vehicle accidents are highways. Expressways and highways are full of large and small vehicles and when you combine this large number of vehicles with high speeds, the risk of a collision becomes quite high. Most highways have numerous lanes of traffic and the chances of collision between two vehicles affecting other vehicles becomes high. A high-speed collision between two vehicles can cause one or both vehicles to spin out of control or roll over, posing a danger to other vehicles traveling in other lanes.
To minimize your chances of being involved in a multi car accident, there are several precautionary steps you can take:
- Maintain a three second distance between your car and the car ahead of you. Ask yourself, if someone rear ends you, can you avoid hitting the car in front of you?
- If the road is wet from rain or snow, increase that distance between your car and others.
- Keep a safe distance between yourself and other vehicles when merging into new lanes. Remember, semi-trucks need much more room to stop safely. If you merge in front of a semi at an unsafe distance, you are putting yourself at risk.
- Make sure all your lights and turn signals are well maintained and working properly. Something as simple as a malfunctioning taillight can cause a person behind you to not slow down in time and makes you partially liable for the crash.
- Keep your focus on driving. Instead of playing with your phone in traffic, or messing around with the radio, keep your eyes on the cars around you.
- Be aware of other cars and trucks blind spots. A general rule of thumb is that if you can’t see a truck driver, they cannot see you. Do not drive for long distances in their blind spots.
The risk of multi-vehicle collisions increases during rush hour. According to a 2017 Illinois Department of Transportation report, the months of June and August see the most traffic in the Chicagoland area interstate. Traffic is heaviest between the hours of 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. with Friday afternoons being the heaviest and afternoon traffic is generally worse. This is because morning traffic is generally due to commuters going to work, while traffic between 4 and 5 p.m. adds in people going about other daily activity. A collision that occurs during rush hour between two vehicles can easily cause a chain reaction leading to a multi-vehicle accident. The risk of a multi-vehicle collision on a highway is higher in bad weather conditions such as when there is snow or ice on the road. When the road is wet or covered in ice, it is more difficult for drivers to stop in time to avoid an accident. Additionally, fog or low visibility can also reduce the reaction time of drivers. If there is already a car crash, these factors can majorly contribute to pileup of cars because other drivers are not aware of the situation ahead.
Multi-vehicle collisions can accrue large medical bills, are time consuming to recover from, and are difficult to determine fault. In order to ensure you are justly compensated and protected, you need an attorney that knows how to ensure you are protected. Your personal injury attorney, on the other hand, will be exclusively in your corner. Your attorney will make sure that all evidence in your favor is quickly collected and noted, and will stand up to anyone who tries to unfairly slants the evidence against you. In addition, an experienced multi-vehicle car accident attorney will help to ensure that all medical documents, bills, and evidence of earning losses you need to receive a full and fair payout is collected from the appropriate insurance company.
Call (312) 957-4166 For a Free Consultation
Contact Willens Law – Proven Effective In Vehicle Wrecks
Willens Law Offices is a highly trusted Chicago area personal injury law firm. We have successfully helped numerous Chicagoans receive their fair compensation after their vehicle accidents. Among our winning cases are:
Our attorneys at Willens Law have decades of experience in these cases, and they are backed by a resourceful team that efficiently handles even the most complex pileups.
While our lawyers are aggressive in facing insurers and defendants, our entire team makes it a point to be considerate when dealing with clients. With us, you get effective legal service combined with compassionate and professional treatment.
Your initial consultation with us is free and confidential. Call Willens Law Offices at (888) 445-1446 today.