Multi-vehicle accidents, as the term suggests, occur when more than one vehicle is involved in a crash. Like all car collisions, these kinds of accidents take place in a variety of traffic circumstances but are most common on interstates at high speeds when cars cannot brake or evade accidents quickly and effectively. Multi-vehicle accidents, also known as chain reaction accidents, are some of the most dangerous kinds of accidents in New Mexico and are often fatal. Unfortunately, they can also be some of the most complicated accidents to sort out after the fact.
Common Multi-Vehicle Collisions
While each multi-vehicle accident is unique due to the specific road conditions, number of cars, and speeds involved, there are some common factors which contribute to the frequency of these chain reaction events. One or more of the following will likely be involved in a multi-vehicle accident:
- Hazardous road conditions, such as black ice, potholes, blowing dust, or snow;
- Limited visibility from fog, mist, or rain, especially when drivers do not slow down appropriately;
- Tailgating can significantly heighten the severity of an accident, causing multiple cars to crash because they are unable to stop to avoid the initial impact;
- Drugs and alcohol;
- Speeding; and/or
- Reckless driving or road rage.
Insurance Complications with Multi-Vehicle Accidents
When you get into the "normal" two-vehicle accident, the at-fault driver's insurance will pay for any injuries and property damage sustained by the victim. If the two drivers involved are both partially liable for the accident, the driver who is less liable (under 50%) may still collect insurance money from the driver who is more at fault. New Mexico is a "comparative negligence" state in which one party's negligence will reduce the right to recovery, but it will not bar that right. However, in a multi-vehicle accident, the sheer number of drivers, passengers, and cars involved can make the situation exponentially more complicated.
If there is any question about who caused the accident, investigations by the insurance companies can drag on extensively. For example, one person may have clearly caused the initial accident by, for example, merging into another vehicle or making a left turn across oncoming traffic. This first collision is called the primary impact. However, after the primary impact, other cars, which are traveling at high speeds nearby, can collide with one of the first two cars, in a secondary impact. Individuals involved in any of these accidents may blame one or more of the other vehicles for their injuries and any property damage they may have sustained, resulting in multiple claims and cross-claims to many different insurance companies.
Pursuing Multiple Avenues for Compensation
Unfortunately, there are often multiple victims in a multi-vehicle accident or pile up, many of whom may have serious injuries and property damage for which they hope to collect compensation. If there is only one individual who caused these damages, it can be very competitive among the victims to collect from the at-fault driver's insurance company. If the at-fault party carries only the New Mexico state minimum liability coverage insurance, there will only be a total of $50,000 in compensation to cover the costs of personal injury or death and a total of $10,000 in compensation to cover the costs of property damage.
Claims stemming from multi-vehicle accidents are often very high because they tend to involve fast speeds and, possibly, multiple collisions with the same vehicle (from the side, front, or behind). A victim's uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will supplement compensation received from the at-fault driver(s). At other times, other avenues for compensation may be explored by your attorney.
Additional compensation might come from a city, county, or state which may be held responsible for failure to maintain their roads or highways and a failure to warn drivers about the associated dangers. Alternatively, a construction company might be held liable if they did not thoroughly light areas of danger, add warning signs to inform drivers or implement a construction signage plan. In some cases, a carmaker or manufacturer could be partially at fault for a defect in one of the vehicles that contributed to the severity of the accident or injuries.
New Mexico Attorneys Fighting for Accident Victims
If you or a loved one has been involved in a multi-vehicle accident, you are likely dealing with the logistical, financial, and emotional difficulties of recovery, including taking time off from work, repairing your vehicle, and treating your injuries. During this time, it can be stressful to know how to pursue compensation, especially if other victims of the accident are making cross claims against you and your insurance policy. For experienced legal counsel, contact Revo Smith Law today at (505) 293-8888. Our attorneys will explore all avenues for just compensation for your injuries and other damages.