Winter Accidents Continue As Sudden Whiteout on Indiana's Interstate 94 Leaves 3 Dead, 20 Injured

February 4, 2014

Soon after the Interstate 65 accident happened, one of the most severe car accidents in Indiana history took place, also the result of unprecedented winter weather the past month.

snow-1336027-m.jpgInterstate 94 in northern Indiana became the scene of vehicle wrecks a mile long, the result of a chain reaction that included four dozen cars, among them several tractor trailers. In the end, three people were killed and two dozen were injured. The accidents were attributed to whiteout conditions that swept into the area during the afternoon commute. The burst of heavy lake-effect snow dropped one to two inches of snow per hour and reduced visibility to less than a quarter of a mile. Just 20 minutes earlier, state workers had plowed and salted the interstate, but the change in conditions rendered those efforts moot. The conditions took commuters by surprise, and within less than one minute, dozens of vehicles were colliding into each other.

Conditions were so poor that the crew of volunteer firefighters could not even see many of the cars that had been hit. Many were crushed between semi-trailers and so stuck to the other vehicles that it was tough for rescue workers to differentiate them. Despite the heavy snow, though, many of the vehicles were burning.

Rescue workers needed to determine quickly who needed to be rescued immediately and who was beyond saving. Many ended up having to wait for several hours in their vehicles, while hardly being able to move. One accident victim from Michigan waited three hours in the remains of his vehicle until rescue, and proved to be the most difficult of the extrications made that evening.

Prior to the sudden whiteout and the chain reaction, state officials had determined that while the roadway was slick, it was not enough to merit closing the interstate. Afterward, Interstate 94 remained closed until the next day.

A situations like this would not be attributed to driver error, as the sudden change of conditions appears to have taken everyone by surprise. Even the most cautious driver would not have been able to avoid a collision if he or she encountered a sudden pileup of cars. If an injured party wanted to file a lawsuit, he or she would need to provide evidence that driver error was the primary cause, not roadway conditions, in order to be successful. Another situation where a lawsuit could occur would be if rescue workers acted unreasonably in their rescue efforts. "Unreasonable" behavior would include any errors that could have been avoided if the rescue worker adhered to the standards of his or her profession. For instance, if a rescue worker determined that a crash victim was dead without checking vital signs, and then the victim died later because he or she did not receive treatment, that would be an example of unreasonable behavior. An Indiana personal injury attorney could help you determine whether your accident was caused by someone else's unreasonable actions.

Miller & Falkner is a plaintiffs law firm serving residents of Kentucky and Indiana. Located in Louisville, Kentucky, the firm provides representation in the areas of personal injury and employment law. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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