As snow and ice have covered a good portion of the country in recent weeks, it’s been hard to avoid the images of multi-car pileup crashes that often resemble parking lots, or in the worst cases, vehicle scrap yards.

The videos of a massive pileup in Texas involved more than 130 vehicles over nearly a mile stretch of a major highway. While that particular event is extraordinary, the multi-car pile-up crash itself is far more common in winter weather.

Multi-car pileup trucks Texas Video

The 130+ vehicle pileup in Texas is an extreme example of the difficulty in determining fault and factors in a chain reaction crash event. Click for link to video.

Here’s how a lawyer might go about sorting out fault and damage in a pileup.

Investigating a multi-car crash

In a chain-reaction collision, the responding police officers try to document and record the crash scene. While we always consider the police reports, they are often imperfect.

Officers on the ground may not be able to interview injured people, and they are also responsible for managing traffic and the road clearance.  Often, they miss talking with witnesses who have relevant and important information.

Identify the cause of the first crash

The driver who caused the first collision in a multi-car pileup is usually considered to be the first cause of the chain reaction of crashes. Recently, when a 12-vehicle pileup closed Highway 599 and the ramp to I-5 in Seattle, police officers were able to clearly identify the cause of the first crash as a driver who fled the scene and was later charged with hit-and-run.

Anyone driving on public roads has an obligation to drive safely—that includes considering the weather, traffic, and road conditions. When someone drives dangerously, they are responsible for the damages they cause.

When a driver loses control of his or her vehicle, due to their failure to operate the vehicle in a safe manner, they become responsible for the damage they cause.

Attorney Kevin Coluccio 

There is an important distinction between an accident and a crash: an accident is happenstance, an unlikely and unlucky occurrence. Most multi-car pileups are not just an accident. Th