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What to do if you’re in a whiteout car accident pileup?

January 21, 2015 by Steven M. Gursten

Giant car crash on I-94 in Galesburg, MI makes national news and raises winter driving safety concerns

I94 pileup Galesburg Michigan

Our attorneys have been getting a lot of phone calls from people on the chain-reaction giant car crash involving 193 vehicles, that left a Canadian truck driver dead and 22 people injured on January 9. This occurred on a stretch of I-94 in Galesburg, Michigan, near Kalamazoo.

My client’s car has been all over YouTube and national news. Millions of people have now watched the footage of the giant fireworks truck that smashes into the rear of a car, with the fireworks truck then catching fire and exploding. If you’ve seen it, then you’ve seen one of my clients. I represent the woman in the car that is rear-ended by the truck.

This mega-chain reaction car accident on I-94 has many people wanting to know about their legal rights (and lawyers too – I received a few phone calls and e-mails over the weekend from lawyers who wanted to know if I thought they could bring a successful lawsuit from this 193-vehicle crash).

I will write a follow-up blog next week on my liability causes of action for attorneys who represent people from this crash to plead in lawsuits. Federal and state regulations regarding the safe operation of commercial vehicles in extreme weather conditions like this one makes the liability case clear, and insurance protections apply to people involved in this just like they would in any normal car or truck accident for people who require No Fault PIP benefits in this state.

But for today’s blog I want to focus on the immediate safety concerns of people  who might be involved in any kind of motor vehicle accident under winter whiteout and treacherous icy road conditions. Remember, the first concern is safety.  Lawsuits for injuries and medical bills come later.

Hopefully, this may never happen to you or someone you love, but here’s what to do to get through this safely if you are involved in a car accident this winter in terrible road conditions:

What to do – and what not to do – when driving in a winter whiteout

Life-saving winter driving tip

14 winter driving tips: How to avoid car accidents in snow and ice

How to make your own emergency winter car kit

Trapped in your car during a bad snowstorm?

If you can take one tip away from all of these blog posts, please stay in your car if you’re involved in a winter driving accident. This is because you’re more susceptible to getting struck outside your vehicle, if other cars continue to slip on the icy and snowy roads and the visibility is poor.

Also remember to drive according to the weather conditions. Just because the speed is 65, doesn’t mean you should go 65 if it’s below freezing and precipitation is coming down. The Michigan Basic Speed Law (MCL 257.627), says when weather conditions change, drivers must “drive at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface, and width of the highway and of any other condition then existing.”

As Nick Schirripa, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation told the Kalamazoo Gazette on the pileup, “This boiled down to driver behavior. People were driving too fast and following too closely on an icy freeway during a white-out.”

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