“In like a lamb and out like a lion”. This past March in the Toronto region has shown this saying to be true. On April 3rd Ontario provincial police reported more than 100 car accidents on regional highways. Most notably, a huge multi-vehicle pile up on the north bound lanes of the 400 highway. Slippery white- out conditions are being blamed for the nearly one kilometer long pile-up involving around 40 vehicles and sending 9 people to hospital with injuries.
The 400 series highways in the greater Toronto area have seen their fair share of multi-vehicle collisions over the years. Unfortunately, the risk of serious injury is increased substantially for those involved. Vehicles are often traveling at a high rate of speed and cars are often hit from multiple directions. Vehicles are pushed from behind into the car in front of them. Broken glass, twisted metal, gasoline leaks and debris can be strewn throughout the scene.
Personal Injury Claims Stemming From a Multi-Vehicle Pile-Up
What happens when there is a chain reaction resulting in a multi-vehicle pile up? Who is to blame? Who is entitled to personal injury compensation?
In most circumstances, car accidents are caused by some sort of negligence. Whether the accident involves a single vehicle, dozens of vehicles or even white-out conditions, this is still the case.
All motorists on Ontario roadways have a “duty of care” to keep themselves and others safe from harm. Drivers must follow the rules of the road, drive according to weather conditions and keep safe control of their vehicle at all times. Failing to follow these rules is the primary cause of most multi-vehicle pile-ups, examples of this include:
- Unsafe lane changes
- Fatigue and drowsy driving
- Failing to drive according to weather conditions
- Speeding, careless and aggressive driving
- Tailgating or failing to maintain a safe following distance
- Distracted driving
In any personal injury lawsuit, it is essential to determine who is at fault or partially at fault for the accident(s) or injuries. The insurance companies for the at fault drivers will ultimately be responsible for financially compensating victims for their injuries and losses.
Establishing fault in a multi-vehicle pile up can prove to be extremely difficult. When numerous vehicles are involved, reconstructing the accident timeline becomes quite complex. What role did weather play in the accident? Aggressive driving or speeding? Was distracted driving involved? Was there one or multiple negligent drivers? Were those injured partially responsible for their injuries by failing to wear a seat-belt?
Chain reaction collisions often happen quite quickly.It may be difficult to determine the first point of impact, and more specifically – what negligent act was the catalyst triggering the event.
Who was following too closely? Which cars may have been pushed into the car in-front of, or beside them? Cars following too closely may be found partially at fault – while others pushed into the car in-front may be cleared of liability. Collisions occur from multiple directions and witness accounts of the incident often conflict.
Regardless of the initial police report or determination of fault, there will almost certainly be litigation disputes surrounding who is responsible for compensating injured victims. Insurance companies responsible for compensating victims will look to limit their financial exposure and share the blame with others. Drivers found to be at fault or partially at fault may disagree with that determination – as it may limit their rights to personal injury compensation.
Those injured in a multi-vehicle pile should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible – regardless of the police reports determination of fault. Most personal injury lawyers in Toronto offer free case evaluations and claim assessments.