Most Texans have undoubtedly heard about the 100-car pile-up on I-35 near Houston on Feb. 11. The weather was unspeakably bad, and most people simply attributed the accident to an unfortunate confluence of adverse weather conditions and rush hour traffic. More knowledgeable observers, however, have started asking questions about the condition of the freeway immediately prior to the accident.
Had the roadway been treated prior to the accident?
Texans are not accustomed to driving on slippery, snow-covered roads, and Houston and Texas agencies charged with ensuring road safety are likewise not accustomed to spreading substances such as road salt to preserve traction for vehicles. The accident scene was estimated to be more than 1.5 miles long, and most of the rest of the day was believed to be necessary to clear the wreckage.
At a press conference following the pile-up, the condition of the road service immediately before the pile-up began was noticeably absent from the discussion. Officials confirmed that 6 persons died in the accident and that 36 people were transported from the scene to local hospitals. Many of the 36 had serious injuries, and some had life-threatening injuries. However, no one discussed the condition of the roadway.
An official with North Tarrant Express, the stretch of road where the accident occurred, said that crews had begun “pre-treating corridors” on Tuesday and that they had been continuously spot-treating the road ever since.
Subjects of future investigation
At the news conference, the Fort Worth police chief said that the condition of the road surface would be one of the important issues that would be the focus of investigators. Investigators will attempt to determine how much, if any, snow and ice melting chemicals had been applied to the road prior to the accident. A second issue will be the speeds of the vehicles that were initially involve in the pile-up. Driver error may also become an issue in the investigation.
Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in an accident – whether involving two vehicles or 100 – will know the long lasting effects it can unfortunately have. However, the more vehicles that are involved, the more factors that need to be reviewed to determine where fault may lie – requiring extensive investigation and review of gathered evidence.
In many cases, though, it may be possible to obtain much needed compensation to cover costs that result from the accident. An experienced accident attorney can provide a helpful evaluation of the evidence, the possibility of recovering damages for items medical or funeral expenses, lost income and pain and suffering, and provide some peace of mind navigating the legal process.