Every car accident is frightening and dangerous in its own way. Some of the most dangerous accidents in Oklahoma City are those that involve multiple vehicles. In fact, these types of crashes accounted for half of all crash deaths in 2019, according to data released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The data was pulled by the IIHS from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). The more vehicles involved in a crash, the higher the chances become that you or a passenger suffer a serious injury or are killed.
Overall in 2019 there were 640 motor vehicle accident fatalities caused by 584 fatal crashes. Exactly half of the people killed in Oklahoma accidents that year died in multi-vehicle crashes.
What causes an Oklahoma City multi-vehicle crash?
There are a variety of factors that play a role in Oklahoma City multi-vehicle crashes. For the most part, multi-vehicle accidents typically occur when drivers travel at high rates of speed or when inclement weather is present.
The most common places for these accidents to occur are on highways and freeways. They begin when a traveling vehicle hits a vehicle stopped in traffic, at a stop sign, or at a red light. They also happen when a vehicle is sideswiped by another vehicle in an intersection. The most common causes of multi-vehicle accidents include:
- Speeding: Speeding plays a major role in all types of crashes. This includes going over the posted speed limit and driving too fast for what the conditions at the time allow.
- Inclement weather: All too often you see reports on the news of multi-vehicle pileups caused by severe fog, heavy rain, ice, sleet, snow, and other bad weather. Given how severe this year’s storms were, all drivers should pay close attention to the weather before and during their drive; the chances are good that we will face more bad weather each winter.
- Falling asleep at the wheel: A driver who falls asleep behind the wheel is a serious danger on the roads. Studies have found that fatigued driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. These drivers may remove their feet from the gas, causing an unexpected deceleration. They can end up crossing lanes of traffic or plowing into stopped vehicles and through intersections.
- Distracted driving: Driving while using a mobile device, talking to a passenger, eating, drinking, smoking, shaving, or doing any other activity not related to driving can cause serious multi-vehicle accidents.
- Impaired driving: Drivers impaired by prescription medication, illegal drugs, or alcohol often cause serious accidents. Impaired drivers have difficulty with depth perception, judgment, sleepiness, and reaction times.
What makes multi-vehicle accidents so dangerous?
It doesn’t matter what circumstance led to the multi-vehicle crash: drivers and passengers are at an inherently higher risk of suffering a serious injury or death in these crashes compared to single-vehicle crashes. Some of the factors that go into making multi-vehicle crashes so dangerous include the following:
- Occupants exiting vehicles: When an accident happens, the driver and/or passenger typically exits the vehicle to inspect the damage, check on others involved, and begin documenting the scene. Doing so on any type of roadway can lead to the person being struck by a passing vehicle or having a stopped vehicle pushed into them by another vehicle involved in the crash.
- Increased risk of injury for multiple parties: Because a multi-vehicle accident involves multiple collisions, it automatically means that the people involved are exposed to higher chances of suffering an injury.
- Blocked access for emergency vehicles: A large pileup poses challenges for emergency responders, especially when they cannot get their large apparatus close to the scene. This can be caused by the actual pileup, since the firetrucks and ambulances won’t be able to navigate through the wreckage, but it can also be due to congestion causing delays in response times.
How is liability determined in a multi-car crash in OKC?
Every driver has a duty of care to others on the road. This means that they must drive responsibly at all times, even when the conditions are not favorable. Should a driver not provide a duty of care, he or she could be held responsible for their actions if an accident occurs because of their negligence.
Oklahoma operates as a fault state, which means that the person deemed responsible for a car accident will be responsible for paying the related damages. Oklahoma also uses comparative fault laws. If you were deemed to be 10 percent responsible for the crash, the compensation awarded by the judge will have 10 percent deducted from it before receiving it.
However, it can be very challenging to determine who caused a multi-vehicle accident, especially when there are more than five vehicles involved. Make sure to call an attorney as soon as you can to ensure that your right to collect compensation isn’t barred.
What kinds of damages can you claim in a multi-vehicle collision?
As with any kind of car accident, you can claim damages for the losses you sustain. Those damages include:
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages and future income
- Property damage
- Repairing or replacing the vehicle
- Loss of consortium
In many cases, you can also make a claim for expenses related to towing your vehicle. If you are the primary caretaker for someone who has sustained severe injuries in a wreck, you could also be entitled to lost wages and expenses.
Were you injured in an Oklahoma City multi-vehicle crash? Did you suffer the loss of a loved one in a pileup? The compassionate and experienced team at Cunningham & Mears can investigate your case and help you recover compensation for your injuries. Call our office at (405) 232-1212, or complete the contact form to schedule a consultation today.
Ryan Y. Cunningham is a founding partner of Cunningham & Mears. Mr. Cunningham devotes his practice to protecting the rights of injured Oklahoma residents. In addition to assisting injured clients, Mr. Cunningham endeavors to improve personal injury representation by speaking on issues related to personal injury law to attorneys in continuing legal education courses and to law students. Learn More