“In Critical Condition” – Why Multi-Car Pileups Are So Dangerous
We often think of car accidents as a collision between two vehicles, or maybe one vehicle and one inanimate object, but this isn’t always true. There are thousands of motorists on the roads; they are bound to hit more than one other vehicle at some point. Multi-vehicle accidents can and do happen here in Oklahoma, often either killing those involved or leaving them in critical condition.
In fact, one such accident happened just back in May of this year. According to officials, “at least three” vehicles collided and killed two people, critically injuring two others. Four lives and families, drastically changed or altered from just one event, is a level of tragedy no one should have to go through.
Oklahoma City specifically is no stranger to these horrific accidents, either. Back in 2019, a deadly four-vehicle crash took the lives of two people. These collisions are often more dangerous than single-vehicle crashes for a few reasons everyone should understand. Acting quickly to protect your rights after any serious car accident is one of the most important things you can do.
Unique dangers of multi-vehicle accidents in Oklahoma City
Regardless of the exact circumstances or who is at fault, any accident involving more than two vehicles is incredibly dangerous. Victims who do not lose their lives are likely to be critically and severely injured in ways that affect their health for years to come. Not only should drivers be aware of their surroundings and always practice cautious driving, they should also try to avoid becoming too comfortable on the roads.
Even good, safe drivers can end up in deadly accidents, and many of these situations happen because at least one party involved felt too confident and behaved in an unsafe manner on the road — even if their only unsafe action was failing to be as cautious as they should be. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, even with fewer drivers on the road, Oklahoma alone saw almost 4,000 accidents involving three or more vehicles.
Understanding the unique risks and dangers associated with multi-vehicle collisions is the only way people will truly take it seriously. Falling into the trap of “it won’t happen to me,” only begets tragedy. Some factors that make these accidents so dangerous include:
- Increased risk of injury for multiple parties. While this may seem obvious, it can be hard to truly consider in the abstract. But the more people involved, the more people are likely to be hurt or killed in the event. It also means more heavy debris and machinery colliding into each other.
- Occupants may exit their vehicles. Especially in multi-vehicle accidents, those who aren’t too injured tend to leave their car to inspect damage and check on others. However, doing so on a roadway in a multi-vehicle accident (especially if it is already blocking part of the road) only puts everyone at risk of another vehicle losing control and crashing from trying to avoid the sudden pedestrian. In especially tragic cases, the pedestrian may even be hit or pushed into stopped cars.
- Possible blocked access for emergency vehicles. The more cars involved, the more obstacles in the road, and the harder it can be for ambulances and other important personnel to get on the scene. It may also mean some victims have to wait even longer to be rescued, as EMTs will focus on the more severely injured or more accessible victims first.
Protecting your rights after being injured in a multi-vehicle accident
No matter how many cars are involved, you have a right to seek financial compensation if your serious injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness. Every driver on the road has a duty to behave safely and responsibly behind the wheel at all times, no matter what the conditions are. That’s why, when the weather is especially bad, it’s recommended you don’t drive at all.
Oklahoma is a comparative fault state, which can work both for and against victims in serious multi-vehicle accidents (or any car accident, really). It means that if you are found to be, say, 15% responsible for the collision, any compensation awarded to you will have 15% deducted from it. When multiple parties are involved, it can become that much more complicated to prove your innocence on any level, as you will have more people working to prove the opposite.
Without the right representation working on your case, you can lose out on the compensation to which you are entitled, no matter how severe or life-long your injuries. Even if you are found to be partially at fault, your attorney can argue a lesser percentage of responsibility, so you still secure the most damages for which you eligible.
Car accidents of any sort, no matter the number or size of the vehicles involved, can be incredibly traumatic for all involved. Their suddenness means victims and responsible parties alike are often in shock immediately following the crash, and it is all-too-easy to forget everything you thought you knew to do after such an event. If you remember nothing else, though, remember this: your health and safety is the most important thing. Do not try to move if you feel injured. Do not wait to seek medical treatment or call for help. Try to make sure you’re out of the dangers of traffic, too, by trying to get to the shoulder and turning your hazards on if it’s safe to do so.
Then, if you’re physically able, try to gather as much information as you can. Everything about the scene of the accident can and will be used as evidence in some manner — and you want that to be in your favor. Try to collect names, vehicle information, location, and details on the accident. If you’re too injured, the officer who makes the police report can gather this for you.
Now, it is time to call an attorney. The sooner your lawyer can start going over the facts and details, the sooner they can begin building as strong a case as possible. The hardworking and compassionate personal injury attorneys at Cunningham & Mears have offices in Oklahoma City to serve you. Not only are we here to answer any and all of your questions, but our only goal is to get you the justice you need so you can focus on yourself, your recovery, and your family. To learn more, call us today at (405) 232-1212 or use our contact form. Don’t wait to start getting better and secure the justice you deserve.
Marcus P. Mears is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Mears is committed to helping Oklahoma’s injured victims in the areas of injury law and insurance litigation. Mr. Mears was selected to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum for his work as lead counsel in multiple seven figure injury cases. Learn More