A Buick sedan rear-ended a pickup stopped on the highway in Riverview in the far right lane. A retired firefighter got out to help out, and a Toyota Camry hit both cars and the retired firefighter killing him instantly. One vehicle in the multi-car crash burst into flames because of the impact with the Camry. The accident happened 4:30 a.m. Sunday, February 24, 2019, on I-75 near the U.S. 301 exit.
Police at the scene say that the driver of the pickup truck was intoxicated and had been driving slow then speeding up and then stopping inexplicably. The Florida Highway Patrol says that several motorists had called in to complain about the driver of the pickup. He was arrested and charged with DUI, and police say that more charges are likely.
Multi-Car Crashes and Secondary Crashes
Some of the most dangerous crashes happen after a collision has already occurred. A person survives the first crash. However, a second crash caused by new arrivers that can’t slow down in time kills the person. Someone stops to help people in the first crash. Then a secondary crash injures or kills them.
The Federal Highway Association defines a secondary crash as “a crash occurring as a result of a previous crash.” The difference between a secondary crash and a typical multi-vehicle crash is that there is a connection between the crashes and there is typically time between the primary and secondary crash.
This is important because there is a chance for first responders to reduce the risk of secondary crashes. Each year, there are over 10,000 secondary crashes reported to the National Highway Transportation Administration. According to a study in the International Journal of Transportation Science and Technology, around 18 percent of all freeway fatalities happen as a result of secondary crashes.
Factors for Secondary Crashes
Freeways, as opposed to two-lane highways, carry a higher risk of secondary crashes. There are also other factors that lead to secondary crashes. They are:
- Number of lanes: The higher the number the higher the risk.
- Time: For each minute that the accident remains, there is a 2.8 percent increase in the risk of a secondary crash.
- Visibility: Rain/snowstorms, fog, lack of road lights and any other visibility limiting conditions increase the risk of secondary crashes.
- Speed: The faster the car, the more time it takes to stop after the driver is aware of the problem.
- Traffic Congestion: Highly congested lanes lower the risk of a secondary crash as cars are going slow. However, heavy traffic where the speeds are high is a risk factor of secondary crashes.
- Road Design: Tight turns or hills that can block the view of the roadway are factors.
Secondary Crashes and Liability
Typically, the at-fault driver in a crash is responsible for the damages that resulted from the crash. However, this becomes a bit murky after a secondary crash. Is the at-fault person in the first crash on the hook for all other crashes? Or maybe just a few of the secondary crashes are the first person’s fault, the rest belong to the other drivers who failed to stop?
In personal injury law, each person is liable for their negligent acts as long as the damages were foreseeable. This means that for every injury you look at the cause and whether it’s reasonable to say that the subsequent damages were foreseeable.
For example, if a drunk driver was the instigator of a secondary crash, this would not be the fault of the primary at-fault driver. However, if a crash happened and then a few minutes later a second car hit the cars that were already there, a court might place some of the blame on the first at-fault driver.
Do I need an Auto Accident Attorney?
You need to speak to an attorney if you are involved in a secondary crash that resulted in an injury. In the event, a loved one is lost you should also learn about Florida’s wrongful death claims. The insurance company will look at every possible angle to point the finger of blame away from their client. Don’t talk to the insurance agent, talk to your own attorney first. So don’t go it alone, call an attorney who can deal with the insurance companies. Contact the RHINO Lawyers who can stand up to the insurance company bullies and take them head-on! Anyone injured due to the negligence of another driver in Florida can come in for a free consultation and our personal injury team will offer you advice.