Florida Fog Related Car Accidents and Pile Ups
Florida is known for its great weather and unfortunately, its car accidents. The most serious type of car accident happens to be a pile up, when multiple vehicles weighing 3,000 pounds or more strike each other in a continuous pattern. A crash involving three or more vehicles is called a chain reaction crash or pile up, and usually results in serious injuries or deaths as each vehicle involved is struck numerous times.5 of the Worst Car Accident Pile Ups in Florida History
- 70 Car Pile Up on I-4: This pile up is not just the worst in Florida history, but one of the worst in the U.S. This multiple vehicle collision occurred on January 9, 2008 and involved cars that were traveling along Interstate-4 between Tampa and Orlando that were driving in a dense layer of fog and smoke. A nearby brush fire had caused smoke to linger for miles and the roads were covered in darkness. Trucks and a tanker flipped over, leaving six of them in flames. Passenger vehicles all smashed into each other, and many were trapped under larger vehicles. All in all, four people were killed and 38 were injured, with five suffering severe injuries.
- 27 Car Pileup on Alligator Alley: This accident that occurred on Interstate-75 near Naples on Alligator Alley on January 26, 2002 erupted when thick fog obstructed the vision of drivers, resulting in a 27 car pileup. A car carrier that was travelling west caused the chain reaction when it hit both a car and a pickup, pushing the pickup into the eastbound lane. In total, six separate accidents happened on both sides of the road, spanning over a half-mile. There were 16 semi-trucks involved and three were killed and another 13 were injured.
- 22 Car Pileup on I-95: On September 5, 2017, police had closed several lanes of traffic earlier in the night to handle the scene of a two-vehicle crash on the southbound lanes of Interstate-95 in Nassau County, just north of Jacksonville. While traffic was at a stand-still, a truck failed to stop and struck the rear of another car causing a domino effect that resulted in a 22-car pile up. The aftermath left one dead and 13 injured.
- 16 Car Pileup on I-17: This 16-car pileup occurred in 2012 on a mile stretch of Interstate 17 near Gainesville. On January 29 at 3:45 a.m., wildfires at nearby Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park caused darkness, heavy smoke, and dense fog on the roadway. It was described as a blinding wall of smoke and at least six tractor-trailers and 10 cars were involved, killing 10 and injuring 18.
- 8 Car Pileup on Miami Turnpike: This is the most recent of the wrecks, which occurred on January 14, 2018 when traffic came to a stand-still on the Florida Turnpike in Miami-Dade County. It is still not known what caused this only passenger vehicles pile up, but six were injured.
Experts agree that fog and other adverse weather-related conditions can be attributed to pileup accidents, as well as reduced visibility, distracted drivers, and drowsy, intoxicated, tailgating or speeding drivers. When there is heavy fog, everyone must adjust their driving habits. How motorists operate their vehicles on a sunny day will differ from how they should drive when its foggy, raining, snowing or sleeting.
When driving in fog, it is important to do the following:
- Slow down your driving speed.
- If your car has fog beams, use them, but avoid high beams, which can make visibility worse in foggy conditions.
- Do not stop on the roadways, as other drivers may not see you. If you must stop, pull your vehicle onto the shoulder of the roadway.
- You can use four-ways or hazard flashers to increase your visibility.
Any driver can suffer from reduced visibility in foggy conditions. Failing to use headlights and taillights effectively or any number of combinations can put the driver and others sharing the roadway in imminent danger.
Truckers work schedule and deadlines can cause them to forget the rules and drive erratically in poor weather conditions. Truck drivers are obligated to be mindful of public safety, but they may not always react accordingly and reduce their speeds or pull over when hazardous conditions are present.
Semi-trucks operating in fog and other bad weather are especially susceptible to causing crashes. Why? These big rigs possess a high center of gravity and have a narrow distance between their left and right wheels, which combined with an unstable load makes it quite sensitive to even the slightest changes. So, any sudden shift in direction can cause the vehicle to pull towards the ground, resulting in a crash.
Truck drivers who cause pile up collisions cannot use bad weather as an excuse for a serious truck crash. Bad weather is explicitly addressed in the U.S. Department of Transportation regulations. The regulation reads that “if conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed” until it’s safe to drive. Moreover, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) states that “extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions” exist. And Article § 392.14 of the FMCSR states that extreme caution must be used in any situation where snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust or smoke adversely affect visibility or traction.”Determining Fault in a Pile Up Collision
When it comes to fault in these types of accidents, it can be tricky to determine. A single driver could be to blame or all drivers involved in the crash could be liable. An investigation by a police officer called to the scene will start the process to determine the lines of liability. The outcome of this investigation could take weeks to conclude as they must interview witnesses, other drivers and victims. The insurance companies involved will also send investigators out to establish who is at fault. This can be a time consuming process as multiple insurance companies will be involved, all trying to pass blame on different drivers. When a pile up crash investigation does not reveal a clear at-fault driver, the insurance companies involved will try to spread the responsibility to all drivers involved.Playing the Blame Game
We rarely see that the driver who is responsible for the crash will actually admit their fault. The responsible party or parties will likely point their fingers at each other to keep the blame off of themselves.
Here are some common examples of how this works:
Placing blame on the middle car: Let’s say the vehicle in the rear caused the crash, but they claim the car in front of them was the first to rear-end another car, which caused them to hit the car in the middle. The front car cannot usually tell who rear-ended who first as they were the last to be hit.
Placing blame on the first or front car: This happens when other drivers say the car in front cut another driver off, which caused breaks to slame, and vehicles to smash into one another.
Placing blame on a hit and run driver: The rear car driver could claims that there was another vehicle behind them that caused the pile up. This is essentially establishing that there is a hit and run driver to blame, but this can be validated if there is any rear damage to the bumper.Pile up Accident Lawsuits
You can be the most vigilant driver on the road and still be involved in a pile up accident. This is simply due to the fact that you cannot control the actions of other careless drivers. As drivers, we are all responsible for operating our vehicles in a safe manner, and when a driver engages in a reckless or negligent act, they can be held liable for damages to those they have been injured.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pile up collision, our Florida Auto Accident Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help you address all the complex legal issues that come along with these accident injuries. While all car accidents can be severe, pile up accidents usually carry multiple tragedies. Our goal is to make sure the blame does not get unfairly placed on you and that you get the full and fair compensation you deserve. We can help you recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.Contact Our Florida fog Pile up Crash Attorneys at Whittel & Melton
At Whittel & Melton, we will provide you with the comprehensive legal representation you need to obtain maximum financial compensation for your losses. We urge you to not delay and contact us immediately for a free case evaluation so that we can make sure you receive all the necessary information. We are available 24/7, so you can contact us today at 866-608-5529.