Personal Injury Blog

Multiple Vehicles Involved in Crash on I-270 After Tractor-Trailer Spills Load, Leaves Scene

By: Allan M. Siegel

Maryland State Police are looking for an unidentified tractor-trailer and its driver after it triggered an 18-vehicle pile-up Monday morning on Interstate 270 in Germantown. According to authorities, the truck made an unsafe lane change into the right lane of the four-lane highway and caused another vehicle to slam on its brakes, leading to a chain reaction. The wreck, which occurred around 5:00 am, shut the I-270 down for hours and created gridlock on the morning commute.

At least two dozen victims suffered injuries in the crash and were treated at the scene by paramedics, and at least four victims were taken to a local hospital. Authorities say it is fortunate more motorists were not severely injured based on the extent of damage. One of the vehicles caught in the crash was a flatbed tractor-trailer, one of three trucks involved in the pile-up, which spilled its load of slate slabs across the road and caused additional damage.

The tractor-trailer that started the chain reaction did not remain at the scene, and authorities are hoping witnesses and others with information will step forward to provide additional details. They state the crash happened in Germantown between Maryland 124 / Montgomery Village Ave. and Middlebrook Rd. Authorities have little to go on aside from the description of the white tractor-trailer.

Multi-Vehicle Collisions & Liability

As one of the largest pile-ups on I-270 in recent memory, Monday’s crash involved 18 vehicles, some of which were damaged so badly they had to be removed by tow truck from the highway. It also resulted in dozens of injuries. Though most victims were treated at the scene, at least four were transported to a local hospital with more serious injuries.

While dozens of injuries is nothing to take lightly, this crash could have been much worse given the fact that it involved nearly 20 cars, trucks, and SUVS, and because it occurred on an open Interstate in the early morning hours, where vehicles are traveling in limited light and at higher rates of speed. Multi-vehicle collisions are notorious for their devastation, including the increased likelihood of injuries, serious injuries, and death. According to NHTSA, multi-vehicle crashes (those involving more than one vehicle) account for roughly a third of all annual motor vehicle collisions in the U.S. Pile-ups involving as many vehicles as 18 are much rarer.

As authorities continue to search for the driver of the tractor-trailer that sparked the pile-up due to an unsafe lane change reported by witnesses, the crash helps highlight the challenges injured victims may soon face in their quest to hold an at-fault part liable for damages. Because pile-ups involve multiple vehicles, determining fault and liability for the crash can be challenging. However, through investigatory work, it may be possible for victims to pursue compensation from multiple parties that share the blame and responsibility for damages. That’s especially true if some motorists are found to have been partially at fault for contributing to the wreck – especially if they could have avoided crashing into the pile-up or other vehicles that have already sustained impacts if not for their negligence, such as if they were driving distracted, without their lights on, or speeding.

Although shared liability may apply to some multi-vehicle accidents, others may be caused entirely by a single at-fault driver. In this particular case, authorities believe that driver may have been behind the wheel of a commercial truck that made an unsafe lane change and failed to remain at the scene. Without locating that driver, victims injured in this wreck may have a difficult time recovering their damages. As such, they must explore all potential options for liability and compensation, including establishing fault and liability for other motorists involved and / or seeking compensation through their own auto insurance – which is why adequate coverage, including UM and UIM coverage, is critical in situations like this.

As a firm that represents car accident and truck accident victims in difficult cases throughout Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. is available to help anyone who was involved in Monday’s multi-vehicle crash on I-270. Our team of experienced attorneys can help you better understand your rights and available options when it comes to seeking financial compensation for your injuries and other losses. Contact us today to learn more.