In winter weather conditions, motorists are at a significantly higher risk of injury. When the temperatures are low and snow and ice are on the roads, even a minor car accident could turn into a multiple-car chain reaction pileup with serious human consequences.
During Winter Storm Marcus, for example, which hammered the area in 2015, a 40-car pileup on the New Jersey Turnpike left one person dead and dozens more injured. Other busy highways in our region, such as the Garden State Parkway and Interstate 80, are notorious trouble spots during winter weather conditions.
As far as a personal injury claim is concerned, multi-vehicle accidents create a tremendous amount of confusion for those involved. It’s often difficult to assign responsibility for the crash to one person; While one driver’s negligence may have triggered the chain reaction, there are often many drivers whose actions contributed to the crash. Sorting out this type of personal injury claim can be extremely challenging.
What to Do If You Are Involved In a Multiple-Car Pileup
If any chain reaction crash has occurred, New Jersey or New York law enforcement officers should be called to the scene of the accident. As an accident victim, you should take the following actions to ensure your personal safety and protect your legal rights.
- Focus on the emergency medical needs of all accident victims, including yourself;
- Give your account of the accident to the responding police officers. The facts that you give to the police will likely affect your legal rights. For example, if you were rear-ended by a car, causing you to hit the car in front of you, be clear with the investigating officer that you were hit first and make sure the police report reflects that.
- Obtain insurance information from all drivers involved in the crash;
- Collect contact information from any witnesses;
- Gather as much evidence as possible from the scene. If you can do so safely, take pictures of any damage to your vehicle and other vehicles involved, any injuries you experienced, as well as any images demonstrating road conditions, etc.;
- Get yourself to a hospital for a comprehensive medical evaluation;
- Report the accident to your insurance company; and
- Consult with an experienced car accident attorney. Do NOT reply to an unsolicited letter sent to you by lawyers. Do your own independent research to choose a firm with the reputation and results.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Chain Reaction Accident in Winter Conditions
New York and New Jersey are both no-fault insurance states. This means that your first step to recover compensation for an accident is through your own insurance company, particularly your personal injury protection (PIP) policy. Regardless of who caused the car accident, your no-fault insurance will pay if you or other persons covered by your PIP policy are injured.
If you sustained very serious injuries, you may have a right to ‘step outside’ of the no-fault system and file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible driver’s insurance company for medical bills, ongoing pain and suffering, and lost income or opportunities.
After a winter weather-related multi-vehicle accident, insurance companies will review the police accident report and witness statements and assign a percentage of fault to each party involved. Determinations of fault are based on contributing factors such as the driver’s speed and how closely the driver was following the car ahead of it. Often these insurance companies arrive at amounts that are only favorable to them.
To pursue fair and just compensation for injuries sustained due to another motorist’s carelessness or negligence, you will need to have an experienced personal injury attorney investigate and gather supporting evidence on your behalf.
Multi-vehicle accidents and chain collisions pose complex legal issues. If you’ve been involved in a multi-vehicle accident, make sure you have an experienced personal injury lawyer review the details of your accident and discuss your legal options.
Contact Our New York and New Jersey Car Accident Lawyers Today
At Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., our car accident attorneys have extensive experience handling complex winter weather crash claims across New Jersey and New York. Let us help you recover the full financial compensation that you deserve.
To set up a free review of your claim, contact our office today.
We have offices in Teaneck, NJ and Pennington, NJ and serve communities throughout the region. We also have satellite offices available by appointment-only in Newark, Bridgewater, Jersey City, Edison area, Colonia, East Rutherford, and New York City.
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Since 1981, the compassionate personal injury lawyers at Davis, Saperstein & Salomon have been delivering results for our deserving clients. We are solely committed to helping injured individuals, never representing corporations. No matter how large or small your personal injury case is, you can trust that it is important to us.