The scene after a car accident can be chaotic. Often, people are getting out of their vehicles, inspecting the damage, taking inventory of any injuries, or even trying to rescue people who may be trapped in a vehicle. Even after you calm down, you may spend a substantial period of time waiting for law enforcement to arrive, talking to officers, getting information from people involved or witnesses, and more. What you may not realize is that the risk of injury does not end after the collision is over. Too often, injuries can happen to people waiting at the scene of an accident.
Recent Injuries on the Side of I-95
Recently, Philadelphia firefighters were part of an emergency team that responded to the scene of an accident on I-95.1 While law enforcement officers were tending to the two-vehicle crash scene, the firefighters parked their large ladder truck to block the path of traffic and prevent any drivers from hitting the motorists or responders who were at the scene. Despite the presence of this large truck “buffer,” another serious impact occurred.
A commercial truck driver was approaching the scene of the accident when he claimed he suddenly lost control of the tractor-trailer. The trailer jackknifed, which means it swung out perpendicular to the tractor. Jackknifes often result in a near-complete loss of control of a truck driver and the trailers can take out any vehicles in their path. In this situation, the jackknifed truck struck the fire truck, which held five Philly firefighters inside. The semi-truck forced the fire truck 250 feet down the highway and during this time, all five firefighters suffered injuries.
While the firefighters were – thankfully – treated at nearby medical centers and released with non-life-threatening injuries, the collision at the scene of the accident could have been much worse. For example, if the fire truck had not been there to act as a buffer, the jackknifed truck could have hit any people or smaller vehicles that were on the side of the highway, which likely would have resulted in fatalities or life-changing injuries.
Pedestrians around the scene of an accident are at a particular risk for injuries. People are difficult to see, especially at night and especially if there are flashing lights or other conditions that can draw a driver’s attention away from people who may be in the road.
Holding Drivers Liable for Injuries Caused at the Accident Scene
In many cases, the initial collision may not cause any serious injuries. However, a subsequent collision while you are at the scene of the accident may result in severe injuries. In such cases, the driver that caused the second collision would likely be held liable for the medical expenses, lost income, and other losses that resulted from the crash. You would have to prove that the driver was negligent in some way when they crashed into the accident scene in order to recover. Some common examples of negligence that may cause this type of accident include:
- Distracted driving2
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Fatigued driving or falling asleep at the wheel
- Not properly moving over when they saw flashing lights on the side of the road
- Aggressive driving, such as excessive speeding or dangerous lane changes
- If you only sustained injuries in the second collision, you only have to prove that the driver who caused that accident was negligent.
However, the situation gets more complex if you suffered injuries in both the initial collision and the second collision. First, it is important to help determine which injuries were caused by what accident in order to decide which driver was responsible for which injuries. Often, if you were out walking around at the scene of the accident, it is likely the initial accident caused only minor injuries and your severe injuries were a result of the subsequent accident. However, if you had been loaded into an ambulance on a stretcher and the second car hit the ambulance, your serious injuries may be attributed to both collisions. Deciding the amount of fault that should be attributed to each negligent driver can be complex and these complicated cases require the help of a very experienced auto accident lawyer.
Consult with a Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorney as Soon as Possible
The car accident attorneys at The Levin Firm know how to handle cases involving shared fault when multiple parties may have caused your injuries. Please call for a free consultation at 215-825-5183 today.