Some multi-vehicle accidents have more than one cause, especially if alcohol or drugs may be involved. A recent collision in Huntington Beach on the Pacific Coast Highway demonstrates the difficulty of establishing causation and fault in multi-vehicle accidents.
The chain of events that ultimately led to two fatalities began when a Dodge Ram pickup heading north on the Pacific Coast Highway crossed the center median strip and continued to head north into south bound traffic. According to police, the pickup truck is believed to have collided head-on with a 1999 Toyota Solara driven by a 19-year-old man from Newport Beach. The pickup then struck a Lexus RX350 occupied by two women, one aged 71 and the other aged 45.
The driver of the Lexus was pronounced dead at the scene. Her passenger was taken to Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana, where she was treated for moderate injuries. The driver of the Toyota Solara was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange, where he was pronounced dead. The driver of the wrong-way vehicle who apparently started the chain reaction was taken to the UCI Medical Center. His medical condition was not disclosed, but police stated that he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Sorting out liability
Perhaps the most telling phrase in the police report was the statement that the Huntington “Beach Police’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team is investigating the accident.” While police accident investigation teams are generally required to investigate all accidents involving at least one fatality, the number of vehicles involved and the lane-crossing by the pickup truck pose a number of questions about causation, such as the respective speeds of the vehicles, did any driver attempt to avoid the accident, and, of course, why did the pickup cross the center-line?
Anyone who has suffered an injury or lost a loved one in a similar accident may wish to consider pursuing a claim for damages against the parties who caused the accident. In such cases, the assistance of an experienced accident attorney can be necessary. A knowledgeable attorney can evaluate the evidence, suggest legal arguments to support a claim and give an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical and rehabilitation expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.