Totaled Car Leads to Pileup on Interstate 110 in Los Angeles – Who’s Liable?
November 30th, 2021 – A single-vehicle crash on the southbound I-110 freeway in Los Angeles, California, eventually turned into a six-car collision spanning multiple lanes. The owner of the first damaged vehicle, which eventually led to the other collisions, fled the scene. A photojournalist from OnScene.TV was on site to capture footage of the accident.
By the time they finished filming, three cars had piled up on the left side of the highway, blocking multiple lanes. Three cars also collided off the right side of the 110, giving oncoming drivers even less room to maneuver around the accident.The photojournalist on the scene called 911 before starting to film. From the time the initial report was made to when officials arrived on scene, five more cars became involved in the accident. The footage also shows the journalist shining a spotlight on the crashed vehicles to help increase the visibility of the pileup for oncoming drivers. Many of the cars involved suffered severe damage. Los Angeles Fire Department members were filmed transporting victims away from the scene for treatment. The deadly nature of Los Angeles’ highways is nothing new – we wrote a blog about the five deadliest freeways in LA recently – but accidents like this are just another reminder of how important it is to stay vigilant behind the wheel.
Who’s Liable for the Crash?
California uses comparative negligence laws when determining who is liable for a personal injury event such as a car crash. The more negligence a party displays in a personal injury case, the more they may have to pay – and vice versa. If the owner of the first car that fled the scene is found, they could be held liable for the crash, especially if they failed to report the accident. They left their vehicle in a location that represented a danger to other drivers, committing an act of negligence that could see them convicted of a misdemeanor and held liable for compensating other victims of the accident. According to California vehicle code 2002:
The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to any property, including vehicles, shall immediately stop the vehicle at the nearest location that will not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists. Moving the vehicle in accordance with this subdivision does not affect the question of fault. The driver shall also immediately do either of the following:
(1) Locate and notify the owner or person in charge of that property of the name and address of the driver and owner of the vehicle involved and, upon locating the driver of any other vehicle involved or the owner or person in charge of any damaged property, upon being requested, present his or her driver’s license, and vehicle registration, to the other driver, property owner, or person in charge of that property…
(b) Any person who parks a vehicle which, prior to the vehicle again being driven, becomes a runaway vehicle and is involved in an accident resulting in damage to any property, attended or unattended, shall comply with the requirements of this section relating to notification and reporting and shall, upon conviction thereof, be liable to the penalties of this section for failure to comply with the requirements.
(c) Any person failing to comply with all the requirements of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that imprisonment and fine.”
Due to sections b and c of vehicle code 20002, the driver may not only be guilty of committing a misdemeanor by fleeing the scene of the accident, but may also be liable for damage caused to other drivers and cars due to leaving their vehicle in a location where it posed a danger to other motorists. However, if evidence indicates that other drivers involved in the accident were liable to a degree – say, because they were texting or speeding when the crash occurred – they may get less money than if they were fully aware and their negligence played no role in the crash. We’ll learn more if the owner of the first crashed vehicle is found and more information is released regarding whether they reported the crash or made efforts to move their car from the scene after it became damaged.
Staying Safe at Night – Nighttime Driving Tips
If you find yourself behind the wheel around sunset or after dark – especially on busy roads and highways such as the 110 – taking the following measures can help you stay safe.
Watch your speed. People have a tendency to drive too fast on the highway. If you watch the footage of the pileup on the 110, you’ll notice that most of the people who got involved in the wreck were clearly speeding and didn’t have enough time to slow down or safely change lanes. It’s important to keep in mind that driving in the fast lane doesn’t give you a license to speed or drive recklessly. You should always try and maintain enough distance between your car and those in front of you that, if they had to suddenly stop for some reason, you could safely halt your own car putting yourself in danger.
Keep the devices out of reach. It goes without saying, but you should never have your phone in hand if you’re driving at night. Having light sources on inside the car can be distracting. Additionally, when you’re going 60 or more miles per hour, a few seconds of reaction time can mean the difference between life and death for you or someone else. Even glancing down at your phone to check directions or change the song you’re listening to can be dangerous.
Never assume others will drive safely. It can be hard to tell when another driver is fatigued, intoxicated, or just momentarily distracted. You should never assume that drivers around you will behave responsibly. Try and drive defensively enough that if any of the cars around you make a bad move, like trying to change into your lane without checking their blind spot, you can react without putting yourself in danger.
If you do get in an accident, make sure you and your car are highly visible. First things first – if you do get in a crash and can move safely, you’re legally obligated to try and move your vehicle to a safe location (as we covered earlier). Getting off the road is also important for your own safety – as we saw in the video, not even a spotlight on a crashed car will prevent distracted or speeding drivers from crashing into it, so getting off the road quickly is ideal. If your car is too damaged to move safely, but you can move, try and get away from your vehicle after making it as visible as possible – especially if it’s in a dangerous location. Turn on your hazard lights. Make sure your brights are on. The more visible you and your car are, the less chance there is of someone else crashing into it (or you).