Understand your rights and how to determine liability in an Atlanta car pile up collision
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Atlanta, GA 30328
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Multiple vehicle (pile up) collisions are particularly serious and complex — often requiring the help of an experienced Atlanta car accident attorney
One of the most difficult parts of a car accident involving multiple vehicles is determining who was responsible (or at fault) for the collision and the resulting injuries.
If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one, we can answer your questions about how to prove liability and who will pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages. Let us help you.
On March 14, 2002, during morning rush hour traffic, a tractor-trailer was driving northbound on Interstate 75 in Catoosa County, Georgia when the truck driver encountered a sudden wall of fog. In a tragic turn of events, the truck collided with another semi-truck, which careened across the median and into the southbound traffic lanes, triggering a series of subsequent collisions.
When all was said and done, over 125 vehicles were involved in the crash and 39 people were injured. Four people lost their lives that morning.
Tragic car accidents such as these are commonly referred to as “pile up,” “chain reaction” or “multi-vehicle” collisions. These types of car accidents typically happen on high-speed interstates and highways where there is heavy traffic, often resulting in serious and fatal injuries. The most catastrophic multi-vehicle wrecks involve over a hundred vehicles, but any crash involving more than 2 vehicles may be categorized as a pile up car accident.
If you or a loved one were involved in a pile up collision, you may have many questions — including who’s responsible for paying your medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress and other financial damages.
When more than 1 or 2 people are involved, liability can get exponentially more complicated. You don’t have time to play games. Meet with our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys to figure out your next best steps and find out what compensation you are entitled to.
When it comes to serious auto accidents, navigating insurance and the legal process — including all of the paperwork and important deadlines — is often more than most people can handle. Let us do the heavy lifting for you so that you can focus on what’s important: your family, your health and your recovery.
Why you need the best Atlanta pile up car accident lawyer
Few lawyers in the Atlanta area are as experienced, knowledgeable and passionate when it comes to representing injured plaintiffs as attorney Charles Scholle.
Over 2 decades ago, he created his own law practice to focus exclusively on personal injury law, and it has paid off. For over 20 years, we’ve been able to secure positive financial outcomes and sizable settlements for our clients. In practicing this area of the law, we’re able to help car accident victims in a significant way.
For instance, in a collision between 3 tractor-trailers, our client suffered a cervical fracture at C6 and C7 and a displaced fracture at C5 which required surgical repair. We were able to secure a truck accident settlement totalling $575,000.
When you contact us after your car accident, we’ll immediately begin working on your case and continue providing top-notch legal service throughout the duration of your claim. We’ll take aggressive and vital legal action, including:
- Investigating and documenting the accident scene, then gathering evidence to prove fault
- Calculating the full extent of your damages — including economic losses (medical bills, lost wages, loss of income, etc.) and non-economic losses (pain and suffering, loss of consortium, etc.)
- Filing the necessary paperwork and meeting deadlines to ensure you get compensation sooner
- Negotiating on your behalf with the other party and insurers to make sure you receive a full and fair settlement
- Skillfully representing your case in court (if necessary)
At Scholle Law, your initial consultation is 100% free — no cost, no commitment. During this meeting, we’ll carefully listen to your story, answer your most pressing questions and evaluate your claim to determine your best next steps. If we think we can assist you and you decide to hire us to represent you, then we’ll get started right away. We operate under a contingency fee arrangement, which means you only pay for our expert legal services when we win your case. If we don’t win, you don’t owe us a penny. It’s that simple.
Common causes of multi-vehicle car crashes
A majority of pile up car accidents happen because of a chain reaction of factors. For instance, one driver might be recklessly endangering the lives of others when they go the wrong way down the road or fail to yield when merging. This can then cause another driver to swerve to try to avoid a collision, only to sideswipe another car.
While there can be many possible causes of a multiple-vehicle wreck, here are some of the most common examples in Atlanta:
- Reckless and aggressive driving. Reckless driving behavior such as tailgating, road rage, speeding and changing lanes frequently are dangerous no matter where you are, but on packed interstates and highways there’s even less room for error. The bad decisions and impatience of a single driver can result in a chain reaction of collisions that impacts many people.
- Drunk driving. Pile up collisions can commonly be traced back to a single driver who was impaired or intoxicated. For instance, in March 2020, a man was taken into custody for a DUI after he caused 2 separate collision events (Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Lynhurst Drive) that sent over a dozen people to the hospital. In all, 8 vehicles were involved.
- Unsecured loads. When traveling at high speeds on busy highways and interstates, it can be difficult to evade a sudden cargo spill or road obstacle that falls off of another car or truck. This is precisely what happened in March 2020 when a Gwinnett County driver struck a ladder in the middle of I-85, causing a chain reaction of collisions which involved 2 tractor-trailers, 3 cars and an SUV.
- Tire blowouts. When a semi-truck or car suddenly loses a tire or gets a flat, it can cause them to swerve into nearby lanes and even lose control of their vehicle. In high-density traffic situations, this can be deadly. For instance, in March 2020, a box truck’s tire blew out on I-285 in Cobb County near the I-75 interchange. The truck driver lost control and crashed into 2 nearby cars. Moments later, another car hit into the back of the truck, fatally injuring the driver.
- Drowsy driving. When fatigued drivers of cars or trucks nod off behind the wheel, they have a tendency to drift into another lane or oncoming traffic. On Georgia’s interstates and highways, drowsy driving is especially dangerous due to the high speed of travel and featureless stretches of road that can lull a driver into a trance.
- Car chases. Police chases may be exciting in the movies, but in real life they can be deadly. In January 2020, Georgia State Patrol tried to stop a white Jeep Grand Cherokee on I-75 South for speeding at 100 mph. Instead of pulling over, the driver took off — hitting 5 other vehicles on the interstate.
- Distracted driving. Texting and driving, as well as other forms of distracted driving, is against the law and reckless anytime you are behind the wheel, but especially when driving on high-speed interstates and highways. Experts say that sending or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
- Bad weather. Sometimes, sudden and dangerous weather conditions such as black ice, heavy rain or dense fog (which is what contributed to the Catoosa County crash) can reduce visibility and make it difficult for drivers to stop quickly or avoid a wreck if they’re driving too fast for the conditions. While winter weather, which is responsible for a majority of chain reaction crashes in other states, isn’t typically a major problem here in Georgia, the region’s occasional heavy fog and storms can make interstate driving hazardous.
Pile up collision injuries in Atlanta, GA
High-speed multi-vehicle collisions are some of the most dangerous and deadly auto accidents. Many drivers and passengers involved may suffer serious injuries, or even be killed. Some of the most common types of injuries people suffer in these types of crashes include:
- Head and brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI) and paralysis
- Neck and back injuries (whiplash)
- Severe bone fractures and breaks
- Severe burn injuries
Determining liability: why chain reaction crashes are more complex
In a car accident involving 1 or 2 drivers, determining who is at fault for the crash is usually a fairly simple and straightforward process. Often, one of the drivers wasn’t paying attention, or was drunk or impatient, which resulted in the collision. In cases where both drivers were partially at fault, Georgia’s modified comparative negligence law will come into play and each driver will be assigned a percentage (or degree) of fault.
However, in auto crashes involving 3 or more vehicles, determining liability becomes significantly more complex.
For starters, it’s more likely that multiple people may be partially to blame for the collision. In addition, a manufacturer of a defective auto part may be at fault, or a government agency might be liable for lack of road maintenance or bad design.
Since Atlanta and the entire state of Georgia operate under a shared fault law, everyone who is involved in a crash will be investigated to see who was liable and to what degree. Even if you didn’t initially cause the crash, you can be denied compensation and sued by other drivers if it’s determined you were partly responsible.
Another complicating factor of chain reaction crashes is the sheer number of people involved in the claim. Not only will you have to deal with everyone who was involved in the collision, but also their insurance companies. Figuring out which person or company is responsible for paying for what percentage of your medical bills, lost wages and other damages can be extremely daunting — especially if you’re injured and just trying to focus on your physical recovery.
Lastly, in all the chaos that follows a multi-vehicle car accident, important evidence and witnesses often get overlooked or go missing. It’s the job of the responding police officers to file an accident report, but they’ll only start that process once they get the situation under control and assist all injured people. During those critical minutes after a collision, certain details and evidence can be lost.
Determining liability is especially difficult following a pile up collision. One of the best ways to ensure you get a fair shake and secure the maximum compensation possible is to seek legal advice as soon as possible.
What to do after a pile up collision
Due to the severity of many chain reaction crashes, the steps you should take after a collision may be different than if you were involved in a minor crash or fender bender. Try to stay calm and follow these guidelines:
- Remain in your vehicle. Avoid getting out of your vehicle and keep your seatbelt on until first responders arrive and say it’s safe for you to exit the car. In the event of a pile up crash, wandering around outside of your vehicle is extremely dangerous since additional collisions may happen. If they do, it’s better for you to be protected by your vehicle.
- Put on your hazards. You can increase your vehicle’s visibility by putting on your hazard lights to possibly prevent another collision.
- Call 911. If you are able to do so, dial 911 and tell the operator that a multiple-vehicle crash has occurred. Tell them if you or anyone else in your vehicle is injured so that they can get the right help to come to you.
- Gather evidence. Once you’ve been instructed by first responders to exit your vehicle, try to safely gather as much information as possible (if you don’t appear to be seriously injured) — including pictures, video and contact information of the other drivers as well as their insurance information. If you can, also consider writing down a description of what you remember about how the crash happened.
- Cooperate with officers. Be honest and truthful when answering questions asked by the responding officer, but try to stick to the facts. Don’t make speculations or admit fault. Obtain a copy of the police report at the accident scene if possible, or ask the officer how you can get a copy later.
- Notify your insurance company. Contact your auto insurance company and tell them that you were in a car accident, but don’t agree to give a recorded statement until you’ve spoken with your attorney.
- See a doctor. Get a medical evaluation as soon as possible after your wreck. Even if you don’t feel seriously hurt, it’s important to see a physician anyway since many injuries don’t have immediate symptoms. The sooner you get a medical exam, the sooner you can receive treatment and the easier it will be to link your injury to the accident.
- Contact a lawyer. Once you’ve visited a doctor, consult a car accident lawyer near you about your legal rights and how to take steps now to secure potential compensation owed to you.
Tell an experienced lawyer about your loss to learn about your options.We’re available 24/7 and your first consultation is free.
Call 866-972-5287 or send us a message online
When to contact an injury lawyer
Whether you were involved in a chain reaction or multi-vehicle car accident inside the high-traffic I-285 “Perimeter” surrounding downtown, outside the city (such as at “Spaghetti Junction” in northern DeKalb County) or elsewhere along one of the numerous interstates and highways that crisscross the greater Atlanta area, it’s important to understand that you shouldn’t take the word of an insurance company when they say they’re offering you the “best possible settlement.”
These for-profit companies will frequently try to lowball accident victims or deny their claim outright for no other reason than they don’t want to lose money.
We encourage you to get legal advice from our Atlanta offices to find out if you’re eligible for damage compensation to pay for your:
- Funeral and burial expenses (in the event of a fatal car accident)
- Medical bills, prescriptions and treatments
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- And more…