What to Do After a Multi-Vehicle Accident in Portland

An otherwise minor collision in Portland can set off a chain-reaction, leaving multiple injured parties suffering potentially serious injuries. If you find yourself in a multi-vehicle car accident, there are steps to take afterward. 

What To Do After a Multi-Vehicle Accident

What To Do After a Multi-Vehicle Accident

Intersections, highways, and roads with no passing or pull-over lanes are common places for multi-car accidents to happen. If a collision does occur and you are involved, pull over immediately and do the following:

Ensure Safety

The first priority after a multi-vehicle accident is to ensure the safety of everyone at the scene. If your vehicle is still operable, move it to a safe location away from oncoming traffic, if possible. This will help prevent further accidents and injuries.

If moving the vehicles is not possible or safe, turn on hazard lights to alert other drivers of the accident.

Ensure that everyone involved in the accident is out of harm’s way. Check for any immediate dangers such as fire, leaking fluids, or hazardous materials. If necessary, assist injured individuals in safely exiting their vehicles and moving to a secure location nearby.

By prioritizing safety, you can mitigate the risk of further harm and create a safer environment for addressing the aftermath of the accident.

Check for Injuries

Once safety measures have been taken, immediately assess the condition of all individuals involved in the accident. This includes checking yourself, passengers in your vehicle, occupants of other vehicles, and any pedestrians who may have been affected.

Pay close attention to any signs of injury, no matter how minor they may appear initially. Some injuries, such as whiplash or internal trauma, may not be immediately apparent but could worsen over time if left untreated.

If anyone requires medical attention, call emergency services immediately. Provide as much information as possible about the location and nature of the injuries to ensure that appropriate medical assistance is dispatched promptly.

By promptly attending to injuries, you can help prevent further complications and ensure that all parties receive the necessary medical care.

Check for Injuries

Exchange Information

After ensuring everyone’s safety and attending to any injuries, exchange information with all parties involved in the accident. This step is important for facilitating the insurance claims process and resolving any legal disputes that may arise.

Gather the following information from each party:

  • Names
  • Contact information (phone numbers, addresses)
  • Insurance policy details (insurance company name, policy number)
  • Vehicle information (license plate numbers, make and model)

Along with that, if there are any witnesses to the multi-car accident, obtain their contact information as well. Witness testimony can provide valuable evidence in determining fault and liability.

Exchange information even if the accident seems minor or if there is no visible damage. This documentation will be valuable when filing insurance claims or seeking legal assistance later on.

Document the Scene

Documenting the scene of the multi-vehicle accident is vital for insurance claims and potential legal proceedings. Take thorough photographs from various angles to capture the following:

  • Vehicle Damage: Photograph all vehicles involved in the accident, focusing on areas of damage. Capture both close-up shots and wider views to provide context.
  • Accident Location: Take pictures of the accident scene, including surrounding landmarks, road conditions, and any relevant traffic signs or signals. These images can help recreate the sequence of events leading up to the collision.
  • Skid Marks and Debris: If applicable, document any skid marks on the road and debris scattered across the scene. These details may offer insights into the speed and trajectory of the vehicles involved.
  • Injuries: If visible, photograph any injuries sustained by yourself or others involved in the accident. However, prioritize seeking medical assistance for injuries over documenting them.

By thoroughly documenting the scene of the accident, you provide valuable evidence that can support your insurance claim and help establish liability if the case goes to court. These photographs can serve as essential visual aids during the claims process.

Document the Scene

Contact Law Enforcement

Following a multi-vehicle accident, contact law enforcement and report the incident promptly. Even if the accident seems minor or if all parties agree to handle the situation without police involvement, it’s generally advisable to call for assistance.

Request that an officer come to the scene to document the accident and file an official accident report. This report will contain important details about the incident, including statements from involved parties, observations made by the officer, and any citations issued.

Obtaining a copy of the accident report may be necessary when filing insurance claims or pursuing legal action. In addition to that, the report can help clarify the sequence of events and determine liability in the aftermath of the accident.

Seek Medical Attention

Some injuries, such as soft tissue injuries or concussions, may not manifest symptoms immediately but could worsen over time if left untreated.

After the accident, visit a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation. Document all medical treatments received, including diagnostic tests, medications prescribed, and any follow-up appointments recommended by healthcare providers.

Keep detailed records of all medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident, including bills for hospital visits, medication costs, rehabilitation services, and any other related expenses.

By seeking medical attention promptly and documenting all treatments received, you not only prioritize your health and well-being but also establish a clear record of your injuries and medical expenses.

These records will be essential when pursuing compensation through insurance claims or legal action.

Seek Medical Attention

Contact Your Insurance Company

Following a multi-vehicle accident, it’s important to promptly notify your insurance company about the incident.

Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible and provide them with accurate details regarding the accident. During your communication with the insurance company, be cooperative and provide truthful information about the accident.

However, exercise caution when discussing settlement offers. It’s advisable to consult with legal guidance before accepting any settlements to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your damages and injuries.

Contact an Attorney

In complex multi-car accidents, especially those involving disputes over liability or significant injuries, it’s advisable to seek legal representation from an attorney who specializes in personal injury law.

Consult with a qualified car accident lawyer who has experience handling multi-vehicle accident cases, particularly in your area. An experienced attorney can provide invaluable legal advice, advocate for your rights, and help you navigate the complexities of the legal process.

Your attorney will assess the details of your case, gather evidence to support your claim, negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, and, if necessary, represent you in court proceedings.

With a skilled attorney representing you, you can maximize your chances of obtaining fair compensation for your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses resulting from the multi-vehicle accident.

Contact an Attorney

What Causes Multi-Vehicle Accidents?

Multi-vehicle accidents, often referred to as pile-ups or chain-reaction accidents, can result from a combination of factors, including:

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding, abrupt lane changes, and weaving through traffic can increase the risk of multi-vehicle accidents.

When drivers engage in aggressive maneuvers, they may create hazardous conditions that lead to collisions involving multiple vehicles.

Driver Fatigue

Fatigued drivers are more prone to making errors behind the wheel, including delayed reaction times and poor judgment.

In multi-vehicle accidents, a fatigued driver may fail to brake or swerve in time to avoid a collision, leading to a chain reaction involving other vehicles.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs significantly impairs a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely.

Impaired drivers may exhibit erratic behavior, such as weaving between lanes or driving at erratic speeds, increasing the likelihood of multi-vehicle accidents.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Distracted Drivers

Distractions such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, or adjusting the radio can divert a driver’s attention from the road, increasing the risk of accidents.

In multi-vehicle accidents, a distracted driver may fail to notice slowing or stopped traffic ahead, leading to a chain reaction collision.

Inexperienced Drivers

Inexperienced drivers, such as newly licensed teenagers or individuals with limited driving experience, may lack the skills and judgment needed to navigate challenging driving situations.

In multi-vehicle accidents, an inexperienced driver’s errors or inability to react appropriately can contribute to collisions involving multiple vehicles.

Mechanical Failures

Vehicle malfunctions, such as brake failure, tire blowouts, or steering system defects, can lead to loss of control and multi-vehicle accidents. Mechanical failures may cause a single vehicle to collide with others, triggering a chain reaction of collisions.

Mechanical Failures

Road Construction or Hazards

Road construction zones, debris on the roadway, potholes, or other hazards can create dangerous conditions for drivers.

In multi-vehicle accidents, road construction activities or unexpected obstacles can lead to sudden stops or swerving maneuvers, resulting in collisions involving multiple vehicles.


Excessive speeding increases the risk of collisions and reduces the time available for drivers to react to hazards on the road.

In multi-vehicle accidents, speeding drivers may be unable to stop in time to avoid rear-end collisions or may lose control of their vehicles, causing a chain reaction of crashes.


Following other vehicles too closely, also known as tailgating, reduces the distance available for drivers to stop safely in case of sudden braking.

In multi-vehicle accidents, tailgating increases the likelihood of rear-end collisions and can trigger a chain reaction involving multiple vehicles.


Common Injuries in Multi-Vehicle Accidents

Multi-vehicle accidents often lead to injuries. Some of the typical injuries that may occur include:

  • Fractures: Broken bones, including ribs, arms, legs, and pelvis, often requiring surgery and rehabilitation
  • Head Injuries: From concussions to traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s), resulting in headaches, dizziness, and cognitive impairments
  • Internal Injuries: Organ damage, internal bleeding, or abdominal trauma, which are potentially life-threatening if left untreated
  • Psychological Trauma: PTSD, anxiety, and depression stemming from witnessing or experiencing the accident
  • Soft Tissue Injuries: Strains, sprains, and bruises affecting muscles, tendons, and ligaments, causing pain and swelling
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Partial or complete paralysis due to damage to the spinal cord, necessitating extensive medical care
  • Whiplash: Neck strain caused by sudden jerking motions, resulting in pain and stiffness

Your Rights to Compensation in a Multi-Vehicle Accident

In Portland, Oregon, if you’re involved in a multi-vehicle car accident, your rights to compensation depend on various factors such as:

  • Determining Fault: Oregon follows a modified comparative fault rule, meaning that if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, your compensation may be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you. [1]
  • Insurance Coverage: Oregon requires all drivers to carry minimum liability insurance coverage, which includes coverage for bodily injury and property damage. If you’re involved in a multi-vehicle accident, insurance coverage from the at-fault driver(s) may come into play to compensate you for your damages. [2]
Your Rights to Compensation in a Multi-Vehicle Accident

Types of Compensation for Multi-Vehicle Accidents

If you were injured in the accident, you may be entitled to various types of compensation, including:

  • Lost Wages: Compensation for income lost due to injuries preventing you from working
  • Medical Expenses: Coverage for medical bills related to injuries sustained in the accident, including hospitalization, surgery, medication, therapy, and future medical costs
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, and inconvenience caused by the accident and resulting injuries
  • Permanent Disability or Disfigurement: Additional compensation if you suffer a permanent disability or disfigurement as a result of the accident
  • Property Damage: Coverage for repairs to or replacement of your vehicle and other property damaged in the accident

The specifics of your situation will determine the best course of action for seeking financial compensation. Consulting with an experienced attorney will help ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses.

Statute of Limitations for Portland's Multi-Vehicle Accidents

The Statute of Limitations for car accidents in Oregon is 2 years, allowing individuals involved in such incidents a 2-year legal window to pursue compensation through a lawsuit for injuries or damages. [3]

Contact the accident lawyers at Goldberg & Loren today for a free consultation regarding your personal injury claim.

Statute of Limitations for Multi-Vehicle Accidents


[1] ORS 31.600 – Contributory negligence not bar to recovery. (n.d.). https://oregon.public.law/statutes/ors_31.600

[2] Oregon Department of Transportation : Insurance Requirements : Oregon Driver & Motor Vehicle Services : State of Oregon. (n.d.). Insurance Requirements : Oregon Department of Transportation. https://www.oregon.gov/odot/dmv/pages/driverid/insurance.aspx

[3] Goguen, D. (2021, September 16). Oregon Car Accident Laws. www.nolo.com. https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/oregon-car-accident-laws.html

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