What Is a Secondary Car Crash?

What Is a Secondary Car Crash?A secondary car crash, also known as a secondary accident or chain-reaction accident, refers to a subsequent collision that occurs as a result of an initial crash. In other words, it’s an additional accident that happens after the initial collision, often involving multiple vehicles and occurring close to the original crash site.

Secondary crashes can be just as dangerous and deadly as primary crashes. An example of a secondary crash is a multi-car pileup.

What are the common causes of secondary crashes?

Common causes of secondary crashes include:

  • Tailgating: Following too closely behind another vehicle reduces reaction time and increases the risk of rear-end collisions. If the leading vehicle is involved in a crash, tailgating drivers may not have enough time to stop, resulting in secondary collisions.
  • Sudden braking: Abrupt braking maneuvers, whether due to distractions, panic, or unexpected hazards on the road, can catch following drivers off guard. This can lead to rear-end collisions and trigger a chain reaction of crashes involving multiple vehicles.
  • Poor weather conditions: Reduced visibility, slippery roads, and adverse weather conditions can contribute to the likelihood of primary crashes. Following vehicles may struggle to safely maneuver, increasing the risk of secondary collisions as they react to the initial incident.
  • Distracted driving: Engaging in activities such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, or adjusting the radio diverts attention from the road. If a driver is distracted when a primary crash occurs, they may not notice the danger in time to avoid a secondary collision.
  • Failure to yield or obey traffic signals: Ignoring traffic signals, stop signs, or failing to yield the right-of-way can lead to primary collisions at intersections. Following vehicles may become involved in secondary crashes if they are unable to stop or maneuver around the collision scene.
  • Speeding: Driving at excessive speeds reduces the time a driver has to react to hazards and increases the force of impact in the event of a crash. Speeding drivers are more likely to be involved in primary crashes, which can trigger secondary collisions involving nearby vehicles.
  • Drunk driving: Impaired drivers are less able to react to changing traffic conditions and are more likely to be involved in primary crashes. Their impaired judgment and reduced reflexes increase the risk of secondary collisions as other vehicles attempt to avoid the crash site.
  • Roadway hazards: Debris, potholes, or other hazards on the roadway can contribute to primary crashes. Following vehicles may encounter these hazards unexpectedly, leading to secondary collisions as they attempt to navigate around the crash scene.
  • Fatigue: Drowsy driving impairs alertness, reaction time, and judgment, increasing the risk of primary crashes. Fatigued drivers may not react quickly enough to avoid secondary collisions as they approach a crash scene.

As you can see, it’s important to always remain alert on the road.

Who is liable in a secondary car accident?

Determining liability in a secondary car crash can be complicated, and depends on the specific circumstances of your accident. Generally, however, liability may fall on one or more parties involved in the chain of events leading to the secondary collision. Here are some scenarios where liability comes into play:

  • Negligence of the following driver: If the following driver fails to maintain a safe distance, is driving recklessly, or is distracted, they may be found negligent and therefore liable for the secondary crash. This is particularly common in rear-end collisions.
  • Roadway hazards: If the primary crash was caused by a hazardous condition on the road, such as debris or a pothole, liability may fall on the entity responsible for maintaining the roadway, such as a government agency or a private entity.
  • Negligence of other drivers: Other drivers not directly involved in the primary or secondary crash, but who contributed to the chain of events through their actions or a failure to act may also bear liability.
  • Vehicle malfunction: If a vehicle defect or malfunction contributed to the primary crash or subsequent collisions, the manufacturer or party responsible for maintenance may be held liable.
  • Comparative negligence: Liability may be assigned based on the degree of fault of each party involved. Each party’s percentage of fault will determine their share of liability for damages. Per the state of Illinois, “Under modified comparative negligence, an injured party may recover damages only if he/she is less than 50% at fault for the injury or damages. However, the recovered amount may be reduced in proportion to the degree that the injured party was at fault.”

Determining liability in a secondary car crash often requires a thorough investigation by insurance companies, law enforcement, and your attorney. Factors such as witness statements, traffic camera footage, vehicle damage, and accident reconstruction can all play a role in establishing liability.

How can

 I a   I avoid being involved in a secondary car accident?

Avoiding secondary car accidents requires defensive driving habits, situational awareness, and the readiness to react to changing road conditions. Here are some tips to help you minimize the risk of being involved in a secondary collision:

  • Always leave enough space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This allows for adequate reaction time if the leading vehicle suddenly brakes or is involved in a collision. A general rule of thumb is to maintain a following distance of at least three seconds under normal conditions, and more in adverse weather or heavy traffic.
  • Scan the road ahead for potential hazards such as slow-moving vehicles, intersections, construction zones, or adverse weather conditions. Anticipating these hazards allows you to adjust your speed and position on the road accordingly, reducing the likelihood of being caught off guard by surprise events.
  • Avoid distractions while driving, such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, or adjusting the radio. Keep your focus on the road and your surroundings to better anticipate and react to any potential dangers.
  • Practice defensive driving techniques, which involve staying alert, anticipating the actions of other drivers, and being prepared to take evasive maneuvers if necessary. Assume that other drivers may make mistakes or behave unpredictably, and be ready to react accordingly.
  • Obey posted speed limits and adjust your speed according to road and weather conditions. Speeding reduces your ability to react to hazards and increases the severity of collisions, making it more likely that a primary crash will lead to secondary accidents.
  • Signal your intentions early by using your turn signals and brake lights to communicate with other drivers. Clear communication helps reduce confusion and minimizes the risk of rear-end collisions or other accidents.
  • Pay attention to traffic updates, weather forecasts, and road conditions before and during your travels. Stay informed about potential hazards or traffic delays along your route, and plan alternate routes if necessary to avoid congested or high-risk areas.
  • Regularly inspect and maintain your vehicle to ensure it is in good working condition. Check your brakes, tires, lights, and other essential components to reduce the risk of mechanical failures that could contribute to accidents.
  • Stay calm and composed behind the wheel, even in stressful or challenging driving situations. Avoid aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating, weaving between lanes, or engaging in road rage, as these behaviors increase the likelihood of accidents.

By following these tips and taking a proactive approach to driving, you can reduce the risk of being involved in secondary car accidents and help contribute to safer roads overall.

The truth is, however, that even the safest drivers can end up in accidents through no fault of their own. When this happens, we can help. At Glisson Law, our Alton car crash attorneys proudly serve Belleville, Edwardsville, Springfield, Madison, St. Clair Counties, and all of Southwestern Illinois and Missouri. To schedule a free case evaluation, call our office or submit our contact form.