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Can More Than One Other Motorist Be Liable for My Injuries Suffered in a “Chain Reaction” Crash?

Multi-vehicle car accident on icy road winter, top view.

Almost everyone has heard the term “chain reaction” crash. Typically what this means is that one car smashes into another, which then smashes into the car in front of it, and the car in front of it, and so on. Once all is said and done, dozens of vehicles may have been impacted in the incident and there is a line of smashed-up cars half a mile long. Often in a chain reaction crash, one car comes to a complete stop due to an obstruction in the road or for some other reason, and then the car behind it cannot stop in time, so it runs into the back of the first car, and the third car does the same to the second car and so on.

At first glance, it may appear to the average observer that the driver that initiated the entire chain of events, i.e. the first driver that came to a stop who a long line of other drivers then crashed into, is the only party that could possibly have been acting negligently in connection with a chain reaction crash. However, this takes an altogether overly simplistic view of how chain reaction type crashes occur. Instead, it is quite possible that the second car, the third car, and/or one or all of the other cars that were involved in the chain reaction crash also had a driver who was texting behind the wheel, following too closely or otherwise acting negligently. Thus, there could have been negligence on the part of multiple parties to the chain-reaction crash that contributed to that crash occurring.

Chain reaction crashes can also present unique issues of causation. Specifically, these types of accidents often raise an issue as to whether an injured party was guilty of contributory negligence, i.e. whether or not the injured party that is bringing suit in the first place had any sort of role in the accident occurring. If that person is determined by the jury to have had a role in the accident occurring, no matter how minimal, then he or she is barred from recovery against any other motorists that may have been involved in the incident under Virginia law. However, the experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys at Kalfus & Nachman have represented those who have been injured in chain-reaction crashes before, even those where our client is accused of contributory negligence, but we have successfully convinced juries that our clients’ injuries and damages in such a scenario was not their own fault, but rather the fault of the other drivers who were involved in the crash.

Multiple Tortfeasors, Contributory Negligence and Virginia Law

Under Virginia law, you have the right to seek damages from whoever’s negligence caused you to suffer injuries or other damages. This is true whether one person’s negligence caused or contributed to your injuries or multiple people’s negligence did so. The jury is simply called upon to weigh the evidence and testimony that it has heard and to then apportion fault among however many tortfeasors (the legal term for the person(s) who were responsible for an incident in which someone suffered personal injuries occurring) were involved in the incident. The jury decides whether each tortfeasor was negligent if that negligence caused the plaintiff (the victim bringing the suit)’s injuries or damages, and what proportion of those injuries or damages each tortfeasor was responsible for.

The only caveat that most drivers who have been involved in a chain reaction crash need to be aware of is the concept of contributory fault. This is a legal term that describes Virginia’s unique system of apportioning fault in personal injury cases. Unlike most other states, Virginia requires that the victim in a personal injury law cannot have been responsible even 1% for the scenario in which he or she was injured. This means in the context of a chain reaction crash that a victim who was involved in such a crash, was injured, and is seeking to hold those responsible for the crash to account for their negligence cannot also have been a cause of that same crash. This can be a particularly challenging issue for someone who has been involved in a chain reaction crash to overcome given the defense will always raise the victim’s own contributory negligence as a defense in these cases. However, a successful plaintiff’s attorney can, through the use of the right evidence, witnesses, expert testimony and other means, show the jury how it was the defendants, not the victim, that caused the victim’s injuries and losses in a chain reaction crash.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys at Kalfus & Nachman

At Kalfus & Nachman, our experienced Virginia personal injury attorneys have recovered millions in compensation for our clients who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence. At Kalfus & Nachman, we have represented numerous clients who were injured as a result of the multiple car pile ups known as chain reaction crashes. We have faced defense lawyers and experts doing everything they can to argue our client was negligent in connection with the accident and should not be allowed to recover for his or her damages. Therefore, if you live in the Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Virginia Beach or Roanoke, Virginia, areas and have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of how many other vehicles were involved, then please contact Kalfus & Nachman PC by phone today at (855) 880-8163 or through the form on this page to schedule a free consultation regarding your particular situation.

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