There are times when a coming together of the wrong factors at the wrong time can spell disaster for highway travelers. That appears to be the case recently when a fatal accident on Interstate 16 in Georgia resulted in 4 dead and 9 injured. The somewhat mysterious circumstances of the accident have not yet been sorted out by investigators.

There are a few known facts about the 27-vehicle early morning pileup that extended for over a quarter-mile stretch of rural highway near Montrose. For one thing, there were 10 separate crashes. There was also a dense fog advisory posted at the time of the collision. Further, authorities indicate that there was at least one controlled fire taking place on a nearby property that may have added to visibility problems.

One of the vehicles involved was a tanker whose vapors exploded and caused a black cloud to extend over the scene which lasted for hours. Because of fire and heat exposure, concrete portions of the highway were damaged. State workers intended to begin quickly working on the repairs.

The cause of the accident is being investigated by a Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team of the Georgia State Patrol. Although the outside factors of the fog and the controlled burn have been established, there were few facts, if any, to indicate precisely how each of the drivers of the 27 vehicles became enmeshed in the various collisions. Those details await the results of the official investigation.

A fatal accident of this scope in Georgia or anywhere else is a rare occurrence. Facts will have to be developed by the ongoing investigation to determine if human fault was involved. If so, there may be numerous legal claims arising from these events. A personal injury claim for damages can be made by an injured party against any negligent person whose wrongful actions or omissions were a substantial factor in causing the injuries. Furthermore, if the accident caused death, the estate of a deceased individual can bring a wrongful death action against parties deemed negligent for damages specified by law.

Source: macon.com, “Work could begin Friday to reopen I-16 lane damaged in 27-vehicle pileup,” Liz Fabian and Phillip Ramati, Feb. 7, 2013