Imagine this: You’re driving through a snowstorm when you see a bunch of cars stopped ahead in the distance. You do the logical, responsible thing and slow down, but defensive driving isn’t enough. You slide over the same slick surface and collide into another vehicle. Mere moments later, another car hits you from behind and the pile-up continues.

Vehicle pile-ups are most likely to happen during snow and rainstorms and when visibility is poor. A very serious pile-up occurred this past January on I-91 in Middletown, CT, involving 25 vehicles, including four tractor trailers.

winter driving Unfortunately, because of the weather, pile-ups can come out of nowhere, surprising unsuspecting drivers. However, combined with slick conditions, multiple vehicles have a greater likelihood of colliding when drivers are tailgating, stop suddenly or aren’t being careful on slick roads.

The best solution to avoid a pile-up? Know the signs of one, so you can pull over to the side of the road.

Avoiding a Pile-Up

  1. If it’s snowing, raining or foggy out and visibility is poor, slow down your vehicle.
  2. Anticipate your maneuvers. Steer and brake slowly from a distance and avoid sudden movements.
  3. Know what weather awaits before you hit the roads, so you’ll be more prepared to react.
  4. As you’re driving, give other motorists enough space – both in front and from behind.
  5. Drive extra-defensively. Never assume other drivers are paying close attention to the road.
  6. Prepare your car for snowy and slick conditions. Examine your tires’ existing treads for their depth or add a set of snow tires.
  7. If the weather gets particularly bad, pull off the main road and wait out the storm until it looks safe to travel again.
  8. Never rely solely on four-wheel drive: As multiple studies have proved, this feature is not always helpful when you’re driving on snow and ice. Furthermore, vehicles with four-wheel drive tend to be taller, creating a greater tipping hazard.
  9. Be completely alert: Avoid using your cell phone, adjusting the radio or looking at your GPS when you’re driving.

If You Get Caught in a Pile-Up

  1. If you’ve lost control and slid into another car, only to have a second vehicle hit you from behind, stay safe with these tips:
  2. Make sure you and the rest of the passengers in your vehicle haven’t experienced any injuries.
  3. Try not to leave the car until it looks safe. If the pile-up is not over, another vehicle may strike you upon exiting your vehicle. As you wait in your car, keep your seatbelt fastened and call 911.
  4. See if you can move your vehicle. In rare instances, there may be a clear patch of road or grass ahead. If your vehicle can still drive and you have space to move, consider moving out of the way.
  5. Only get out of your vehicle when a public safety official says it’s safe. In the meantime, keep your vehicle’s hazard lights on.
  6. Wait for the paramedics to arrive, so you can get checked out.
  7. Before you report your claim to your insurance company or reach out to a lawyer, write down all the details from the scene, including any injuries sustained. Try to remember as much as possible and take photos of your car and the surrounding vehicles at the scene.

From this point on, you can expect any claims to be a lengthy, drawn-out process. It’s extremely difficult for an insurance company or a lawyer to determine who is at fault in a pile-up for the following reasons:

  • The person who rear-ended you may be responsible for the damage to your vehicle and the car in front of you, depending upon how hard you were hit.
  • If all motorists were driving too closely, the driver in front and the motorist who rear-ended you may both be at fault if all cars were in motion.
  • Who hit who first? If you were the first to rear-end the motorist in front, only then to be rear-ended by the motorist behind, you may bear some responsibility. However, if you were pushed by the car behind, you may not be responsible.

In the event of a convoluted traffic incident like a pile-up, it’s essential to get a lawyer involved with your claim. If you’ve been involved in a pile-up and are now dealing with an aftermath of medical bills and missed work, contact Trantolo & Trantolo’s car accident attorneys today.