Many car accidents in Delaware involve more than two vehicles. With some accidents, it is clear that one driver was at fault. With others, several drivers may be partially at fault. Our seasoned personal injury lawyers work with investigators, the police, and, if necessary, traffic reconstruction experts, to determine how the accident happened and who is responsible. A major concern, no matter how a multi-vehicle crash happened, is that these accidents often cause catastrophic or permanent injuries. Call our car accident lawyers in Wilmington, Seaford, or Newark to discuss your rights or the rights of a loved one who is in critical condition.
Multi-vehicle accidents can involve vehicles of the same type, such as three cars, or vehicles of different types, such as a commercial truck and two passenger cars. Many multi-vehicle accidents are chain reaction accidents. A common example is when Driver D rear-ends Driver C. Driver C then rear-ends Driver B who rear-ends Driver A.
Multi-vehicle accidents often involve a crash that begins with just two vehicles striking each other. As a result of the initial accident, one or both vehicles might veer into oncoming lanes of traffic, striking other cars. Or other vehicles may collide with each other as they try to avoid the first crash.
Another common type of multi-vehicle accident begins with a truck that rolls over, jackknifes, or spills its cargo. Nearby vehicles may crash into the truck, run over the spill, veer into a barricade, or collide with other vehicles in an attempt to avoid the accident or debris in the road.
What factors contribute to the severity of a multi-vehicle accident?
Victims of multi-vehicle accidents tend to suffer severe and critical injuries because they may be struck multiple times by different vehicles. These multiple impacts either increase the severity of the injury – like turning a simple fracture into a compound or multiple fractures – or they increase the types of injuries such as adding brain trauma to that simple fracture. Many victims can survive one impact. It’s the second or even third impact that causes life-threatening or life-changing injuries.
Other reasons why multi-vehicle accidents may cause injuries that are so severe the victims are often admitted to hospitals in critical condition, clinging to life and the hope that surgeries will provide life-saving remedies, are:
- Cars and trucks are generally designed to withstand some impact if they are hit on the rear or side. Physically, multi-vehicle vehicle accidents often involve cars striking other cars or objects at unusual non-crashworthy angles or parts of the vehicle.
- Multi-vehicle accidents increase the odds of a rollover or a person being evicted from the car.
- Many times, a multi-vehicle accident causes one car to enter a lane of oncoming traffic – resulting in a head-on crash with a vehicle coming from the opposite direction.
- Multi-vehicle accidents increase the risk of critical injuries because the occupants of the vehicle may become trapped inside and unable to open the doors to escape.
Another complicating factor in multi-car collisions is that it can be more difficult for ambulances and other emergency vehicles to drive through traffic to get to the accident site. Delays in immediate treatment increase the odds of serious injuries. A few seconds can mean the difference between life and death.
What damages can I claim after a multi-vehicle accident?
Some of the many types of critical and catastrophic injuries our personal injury lawyers handle include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Traumatic amputations/loss of limb
- Spinal cord damage including paralysis
- Internal bleeding and organ damage
- Fractures including multiple, complex, and compound fractures
- Third-degree burn injuries
- Scarring and disfigurement
Victims of all types of accidents often suffer emotionally in addition to suffering physically. A multi-vehicle accident can increase emotional suffering due to severe physical trauma. Some victims also experience depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome.
What are the unique challenges involved with critical injuries?
Some victims who can’t function physically, cognitively, or emotionally may need to have a guardian ad litem appointed to represent their interests. Generally, the parents or other family members will request that they be appointed by the county court to represent their interests in the claim against the responsible drivers.
If a victim is a child or ruled incompetent, then the settlement of the claim usually needs to be approved by the trial judge assigned to the case. Settlements are normally structured so that the victim has the funds he/she needs for their medical care.
Victims who are admitted in critical condition often have injuries that last a lifetime. Part of our duty as your lawyer is to work with your doctors and rehabilitative team to determine what types of health providers you will need to see, what treatments you will need, and the cost of those treatments for the rest of your life (or the life of your loved one).
Litigation for multi-vehicle accidents is normally more complex because there are multiple defendants – each of whom is likely to blame each other. The good news is that when multiple vehicles are involved, there are often multiple insurance policies available. In addition to the drivers, there may also be other liable parties. Additional defendants may include the owners of the cars, employers, trucking companies, and others. Manufacturers of defective auto parts may also be liable.
At Silverman, McDonald, & Friedman, our Delaware car and truck accident lawyers have the experience and resources to help injury victims obtain justice. We file personal injury claims on behalf of survivors and wrongful death claims if a victim loses their life in an accident. To discuss your claim, please call us at 302-888-2900 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation in our Wilmington, Newark, or Seaford offices.
Attorney Jeffrey S. Friedman joined Silverman, McDonald & Friedman in 2001. He graduated from Widener University School of Law, and is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and in several Federal Circuit courts. He areas of concentration include auto accident and workers’ compensation cases. Read more about Attorney Friedman here.