WA Case Update: Can Multiple Collisions Constitute a Single Accident?

From the desk of Kyle D. Riley: For purposes of liability under an auto insurance policy, will an intoxicated driver’s multiple collisions with various vehicles occurring within a matter of seconds and in close proximity constitute a single accident? Read on to see how the Washington Court of Appeals answered this question.

Claims Pointer: The Washington Court of Appeals held that the collisions in question constituted a single accident due to all of the collisions being the sole, uninterrupted and proximate cause of the intoxicated driver’s negligence. Furthermore, the court concluded that the driver never regained control of the situation or the car’s injury-causing potential, thereby confirming its holding that this case involved a single accident.

State Farm v. Glover-Shaw, No. 72267-1-I, Washington Court of Appeals, Div. 1 (Feb. 16, 2016).

Suzanna Suljic was intoxicated and driving southbound on Broadway Street in Everett, Washington. She approached the intersection of Broadway Street and Everett Avenue and crossed the center lane into oncoming traffic, hitting George Maxfield’s northbound car. She then swerved into the left turn lane, rear-ending Terry Kennedy’s southbound car. As a result of the impact, Kennedy’s car rear-ended Matthew Thayer’s car. Kennedy’s car then rotated, hitting the front driver’s side of Jason Tastad’s car traveling southbound. Suljic continued southbound in the northbound lanes of Broadway Street into the intersection of Broadway Street and Everett Avenue. She ran the red light and collided head-on with Lynsey Price’s northbound car. The impact caused Suljic’s car to rotate and strike Price’s car again. Amber Conner, driving northbound behind Price, rear-ended Price’s car. According to State Farm’s car collision analysis expert, these collisions occurred in about four to five seconds within about 160 feet.

Suljic was driving a car owned by and insured to Phyllis Glover-Shaw. Glover-Shaw’s son,...

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