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What Are Secondary Car Accidents?

November 13th, 2019

While there are many different ways a car accident can occur, the initial accident between two or more drivers is typically considered a “primary” accident. These accidents can lead to “secondary” car accidents, caused as a direct result of the initial, primary car accident. Secondary car accidents can be just as catastrophic, causing injuries, property damage, and even death.

Secondary Car Accidents

A secondary car accident is one that occurs as a direct or indirect consequence of a previous accident, known as the primary accident. These secondary accidents typically happen shortly after a primary accident, and in the near vicinity of the primary accident. According to the Federal Highway Administration, up to 20 percent of all traffic accidents are secondary accidents.

Causes of Secondary Car Accidents 

While there can be many causes of secondary car accidents, the most common include the following:

  • Drivers who are distracted by looking at the primary accident (also known as “rubbernecking”)
  • Drivers tailgating, causing a pileup of cars to occur after the primary accident
  • Spilled cargo from large trucks
  • Sudden traffic stops
  • Debris from the primary accident in the roadways
  • Disabled vehicles causing roadways to be obstructed for other drivers
  • Drivers swerving to avoid animals in the roadway

Challenges of Secondary Car Accidents 

Since secondary car accidents typically occur in congested areas of traffic, it may be more difficult for emergency vehicles, such as the police, ambulances, and fire trucks, to navigate the roadways. This inability to arrive at the scene of the primary, or secondary accidents can result in the delay of medical attention to those in need and severe injuries being unattended to.

Additionally, because secondary car accidents typically involve several cars, it can be difficult to determine liability, as many of the subsequent accidents likely occurred simultaneously or very close together. Chain reaction car accidents are the most common form of secondary car accidents. Just as the name indicates, these accidents are caused by multiple vehicle pile-ups, typically on busy highways, resulting in potentially catastrophic injuries. In difficult cases, the opinion of a car accident reconstruction expert may be necessary to make a determination of fault.

Avoiding Secondary Car Accidents 

While there is no way to always prevent an accident, there are some best practices to avoid secondary car accidents.

  • Try not to be distracted by other accidents that have occurred on the roadway
  • Remain alert at all times to disabled vehicles, swerving drivers, sudden stops, and spilled cargo.
  • Eliminate distractions and never drive while texting

Additionally, the introduction of technology could also help avoid secondary car accidents in the future. Crash avoidance technology, automatic braking, and collision detection systems should, in theory, be able to prevent some pile-up accidents.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney 

If you or a loved one were involved in any kind of car accident, contact an experienced car accident attorney to help you understand your rights, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and help you recover the compensation you deserve. For a complimentary consultation of your case, contact our attorneys at The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm at 504-586-5200 or online today.

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