Inclement Weather, Multi-Vehicle Crashes, and Injury Accident Litigation in Oregon

For all of Oregon’s great natural beauty and frequently gorgeous weather, much of our region is also home to periods of very challenging weather conditions like ice, snow, and fog. With bad weather also comes vehicle crashes, frequently involving multiple autos. If you have been seriously injured (or you’ve lost a loved one) in a bad-weather chain-reaction crash or other weather-related multi-vehicle accident, getting what you’re due can be especially complicated. For these kinds of complex cases, you need an experienced Portland auto accident lawyer to provide you with legal representation.

In the past three months, AccuWeather reports have focused not once but twice on Oregon and its weather, with the two incidents making for a study in contrasts. Earlier this month, snowy and icy conditions in Pendleton led to a peculiar chain-reaction crash. A parked (and unoccupied) police SUV began sliding backward on a snowy hill. It hit a boat, which hit a parked pickup truck, which crashed into another parked pickup truck. The first pickup pushed the second onto the curb and proceeded down the hill, eventually hitting another car before crossing an intersecting street. Viewers on the internet watched with bemusement as no one was hurt in the entire incident.

An incident from October was not amusing. The serious multi-vehicle crash, which occurred on a foggy stretch of southbound Interstate 5 between Eugene and Salem, involved at least 45 passenger vehicles plus another 15-20 commercial trucks. The crash killed at least one and injured numerous others.

Satellite imagery showed that fog (along with smoke from nearby wildfires) covered the I-5 corridor in Oregon that morning. Nearby Corvallis airport reported visibility of just 1/4 mile.

Many Permutations Means Multiple Possibilities When it Comes to Fault

Chain-reaction crashes can be particularly complex because of the numerous possible permutations, each of which may implicate the liability of different drivers. The law in Oregon follows the rule of modified comparative negligence, which means that each driver’s percentage fault (and potential liability) is based upon his/her degree of contribution to the crash, and an injured plaintiff can win so long as his/her degree of negligence was less than that of the defendant. (If a plaintiff wins but is partly at fault, any award will be offset by the percentage of the plaintiff’s negligence.)

Say, for example, you were seriously injured inside the front auto in a four-vehicle rear-end collision. If the proof shows that the fourth (furthest in the rear) driver slammed into the third car, pushing it into the second and the second into your car, then the driver of the fourth vehicle could be 100% responsible for all harm caused.

But — and this can be especially common in chain-reaction incidents involving weather-related poor visibility — it’s possible that the second car rear-ended you, then the third car slammed into the back of the second, and then the fourth crashed into the third. In that scenario, all three of those drivers could be negligent and potentially have legal liability.

In this situation, you’ll need the right legal representation to amass the necessary evidence (such as police accident reports, photos or videos of the crash scene, eyewitness statements, accident investigation results, medical records, etc.) to take on the other drivers and, especially, the insurance companies. Insurance companies may feel especially emboldened to fight in a chain-reaction incident, as they know these types of cases can be hard to win, especially if you’re trying to proceed without legal representation.

The skilled Oregon auto accident attorneys at Kaplan Law LLC have broad knowledge and are fully up-to-date on all of Oregon’s laws regarding vehicle crashes and vehicle crash cases. We’re also highly experienced in dealing with insurance coverage issues as well, so we know how to obtain a full recovery for the harm our clients experienced. Call us today at (503) 226-3844 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.

50 SW Pine St 3rd Floor Portland, OR 97204 Telephone: (503) 226-3844 Fax: (503) 943-6670 Email:
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