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Those who live or work in the LA area know part of life is fighting congestion and traffic. Hearing about yet another pileup on one of our freeways or interstates becomes something that does not raise an eyebrow after a while. But a multicar crash often causes property damage, severe injury and even death.

In March, readers may remember several multivehicle accidents involving about 20 vehicles (and trapping many more) along a four-mile stretch when thick fog covered the Grapevine area on Interstate 5 on a Saturday afternoon. According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, in addition to the foggy conditions, other factors that could have contributed to the crashes included smoke from two burning vehicles, drivers not engaging their headlights and excessive speed for the condition.

About 17 people were hospitalized, including a severely injured toddler.

Anatomy of a pileup

Multicar accidents and pileups are often started by or involve read-end crashes. Drivers may have visibility problems from weather conditions like the Grapevine fog, or from snow, dust, smoke or heavy rain, making discernment of objects ahead difficult. Those objects might include slowing or stopped vehicles (and their brake or hazard lights), accidents, livestock or road debris. The chance for accident chaos increases with excessive speeds, failure to engage headlights and heavy traffic.

Driver negligence can contribute such as following too close, speeding, burnt out headlights, taillights or brake lights, or distracted behavior like eating or using a cell phone. When negligent or reckless driving behavior causes injury or death, the driver is liable for resulting damages.

If you were involved in a Southern California pileup, it is a good idea to talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible so that all potentially responsible parties can be identified. Investigation of such an accident on behalf of a victim should start early so that legal counsel can review evidence still fresh and talk to witnesses while memories are vivid. Isolating all contributing factors to a pileup can be more complex than in a more ordinary accident.