The Threat of Injuries and Deaths in the Aftermath of a Minor Fender-Bender

You’re in a car accident.  It’s relatively minor, but this certainly you are still shaken, upset, and angry.  You take a deep breath and try to be thankful that no one was injured.  That, however, can change in an instant.  In today’s blog post, our San Francisco car accident lawyer looks at serious car crashes that follow on the heels of more minor accidents and reminds readers to keep safety in mind during the confusing moments after a crash.

Milpitas Fender-Bender Leads to Fatal I-80 Collision

Late Sunday night, a man was killed when he was hit by a car while checking on the damage from a minor crash that occurred only minutes before.  According to the Milpitas Post, a 36 year-old South San Francisco man was driving a Toyota Prius along northbound Interstate 880 when he rear-ended a Mercedes vehicle.  Officers believe the man exited his car to check on the other driver whose vehicle was disabled in a travel lane.  After confirming she was okay, he returned to his car and stood in its doorway.  A blue Toyota Matrix sedan approached in the same lane as the disabled Mercedes.  Swerving to avoid the disabled vehicle, the Matrix hit and killed the Prius driver.  Police are still investigating but say they do not expect to make an arrest.

A Recurring Problem Turning Minor Crashes into Major Tragedies

Sadly, it is far from uncommon for a serious accident to follow on the heels of a minor collision.  Several fatalities have occurred under similar circumstances in the first half of 2015 alone.  On March 28, NECN reported that a man was killed on the Massachusetts Turnpike when he exited his vehicle to complete paperwork about a minor two-car collision and was hit by a third vehicle.  In February, the New York Post, covered a minor accident near Westchester, New York that turned deadly when a third car crashed into the scene, killing both of motorists involved in the initial incident as they stood on the side of the road inspecting the damage.  A third example was reported by ABC13 in Houston.  On February 1, 2015, a driver who had been involved in a fender-bender was trying to cross the freeway when he was hit by another vehicle, killing him instantly.

Staying Safe After a Minor Car Accident

These cases are only a small sample of a larger problem that often results in serious injury or death.  While it is important for all drivers to be vigilant and on the lookout for accident scenes, we also want to remind readers that safety should be the first priority after any accident, no matter how minor.  WikiHow provides a list of steps (we’ve combined some for simplicity) to follow after a car accident:

  • If possible, move your car out of traffic. Typically, the right shoulder is the best bet.  If you are on a highway, try to get off and stop as soon as you reach a safe location.
  • Stay inside your vehicle with your seatbelt fastened and your hazard lights activated.  You are safer, not to mention more visible, in your car than on the street.  An exception — Get out if you smell gas.
  • If you do have to wait for help outside your vehicle, stay as far from the roadway as possible.
  • Call 911. This is a smart move for safety and in case of subsequent legal action.
  • Document the crash. We’ve added this tip which is less about safety and more about preserving evidence (ex. photos, a log of calls to your insurer, witness info) in the event you decide to pursue a legal claim.

Representing the Injured and the Grieving in Northern California

As always, our motto is “Prevention First.”  Accidents are scary.  It is hard to think in the aftermath of even a minor collision.  Being prepared ahead of time and knowing what to do can save your life.

Ultimately, drivers are responsible for their own actions and it is incumbent upon drivers to be alert at all times.  If a driver ran into you or your loved one while you were dealing with a previous collision, you may have a civil claim.   This is true even if the police did not file charges and even if, in retrospect, you made a less-than-ideal choice after the initial crash.  Contact Attorney Greg Brod, a Northern California injury attorney who operates a personal injury law firm in Oakland, San Francisco, and Santa Rosa, to learn more.

See Related Blog Posts:

“Move Over”: The Danger of a Second Crash in the Wake of a Roadway Accident

Staying Safe After a Collision: Second Crash Kills UC Berkley Student