Who is liable for injuries when fog causes a major crash?
Thick patches of "super fog" rolling onto New Orleans area highways have contributed to two deadly multi-car pileups in the past few weeks.
- On Nov. 7, a dense cloud of fog and smoke from nearby fires resulted in a fatal crash and serious multiple-car accidents on I-10 in New Orleans.
- On Oct. 23, fog and smoke from a marsh fire caused a 160-vehicle pileup on I-55 that resulted in 8 deaths and scores of injuries.
Typically, in a Louisiana car accident, victims are entitled to compensation from the at-fault party. But when a crash is caused by super fog, who's responsible for damages? The legal implications of poor visibility are multifaceted. Although every crash is different, an experienced New Orleans car accident attorney with experience handling multi-vehicle crashes can help individuals determine liability and recover the compensation they deserve. Here is an explanation of recent events and how fault and liability are generally determined in multi-vehicle pileups.
What is super fog?
Super fog is playing a role in more and more highway pileups. It's opaque and persistent. This type of fog tends to linger for extended periods, which is what happened the morning of the October pileup on I-55 in Manchac (Akers). The fog blanketed the interstate, drastically reducing visibility for drivers and causing a chain-reaction accident that resulted in 8 deaths and over 60 injured people.
Forget about low visibility. Drivers in these super fog accidents seem to have had no visibility. Video from the November pileup appears to show drivers were unable to see the vehicles next to or in front of them. Cars and trucks disappear right in front of the videographers' eyes. Their views are completely obscured by dark, smokey fog.
Determining fault when fog is a major factor
Determining fault in a multi-vehicle pileup often involves a detailed analysis of factors such as driver actions, adherence to traffic laws, and the sequence of events, with the goal of establishing a percentage of fault for each point of contact in the crash. In an accident like the pileup on I-55, there can be hundreds - even thousands of crash points to investigate. Louisiana follows a comparative fault system, meaning that damages are allocated based on the percentage of fault attributed to each party involved in the crash. Therefore, multi-vehicle accident victims must often seek compensation from multiple parties. This potentially means dealing with one or more insurance companies to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other accident-related damages.
To prove liability, crash investigations often focus on driver behavior in response to the sudden onset of fog. Questions that may be asked include:
- Were traffic laws followed?
- Were there any foreseeable warning signs?
- Did distracted driving, fatigued driving, drunk driving, or another type of neglect contribute to the crash?
- Did commercial vehicles, such as semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, concrete mixers, hazmat tankers, etc. - follow federal regulations?
- Did the government ignore the unacceptable and known risks of highway super fog?
Drivers facing reduced visibility must make split-second decisions to avoid causing crashes with other vehicles. Investigating whether drivers adjusted their speed, increased their following distances, or took appropriate precautions can shed light on who may be at fault. If commercial vehicles were involved, the investigation should consider whether failure to follow federal and state CMV regulations were contributing factors. Poorly trained truck drivers, 18-wheelers with worn-out brakes, or bald tires, for example, may be violations that establish liability for a negligent trucking company.
A New Orleans car accident lawyer can explain your legal options
The I-55 pileup caused fatal and serious injuries like bone fractures, concussions, whiplash, and internal organ damage. Victims of such crashes almost always incur significant medical expenses, including hospitalization, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation costs. The bills add up quickly. To avoid paying for another driver's negligence out of their own pockets, victims must ensure they pursue full compensation for their losses. An experienced Louisiana car accident lawyer can determine fault, collect evidence, help quantify expenses, and negotiate aggressively for maximum compensation.
If you were injured or a loved one died in a Louisiana crash, contact The Law Offices of John S. Williams, LLC for a free case evaluation. Attorney Williams has extensive experience conducting thorough crash investigations involving multiple vehicles and insurance companies. To see how we can help you, contact our law firm's office in New Orleans today.