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How Virginia Courts Determine Liability in Multi-Vehicle Car Accident Cases

Multi-vehicle car accidents in Virginia can be challenging for plaintiffs due to the state’s strict contributory negligence law. Under Virginia’s contributory negligence law, a plaintiff is not permitted to recover compensation for their injuries if the court finds that the plaintiff was even 1% at fault for the accident resulting in their injuries. The issue of contributory negligence frequently arises in Virginia multi-vehicle accidents because determining liability can be confusing when so many parties are involved. Inaccurate or incomplete accident reports can result in incorrect fault determinations and bar an accident victim’s claim to recovery. Additionally, Virginia defendants will often claim that the plaintiff’s injuries were not a foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions. These commonly occurring issues can present serious difficulties for Virginia car accident victims.

For example, recently, a federal appellate court issued an opinion stemming from a multi-vehicle chain-reaction accident. The case presented issues that Virginia plaintiffs often encounter during their injury claims. In that case, the defendant rear-ended his employer’s truck into another car, causing a severe traffic backup. About 10 to 15 minutes after the accident, the plaintiff approached the backup and stopped her vehicle. However, the driver behind her failed to notice the traffic backup. The driver collided with the woman, resulting in the woman suffering major physical injuries. The woman filed a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the initial crash, as well as his employer.

In situations such as this, courts determine liability by evaluating the causal relationship between the defendant’s negligence, if any, and the accident that resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. Typically, Virginia courts assess liability based on proximate cause and whether there were any superseding reasons for the accident. Some determining factors are when and how the accident occurred and whether the plaintiff’s injuries were a foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions.

The court in this case held that the plaintiff’s injuries were not a foreseeable consequence of the original accident. The court found that since the accident occurred more than 10 minutes after the initial collision, a half-mile back, and the other cars were able to stop in time, the defendant was not responsible for the plaintiff’s accident. The court acknowledged that the analysis might be different if the initial act increased the likelihood that other drivers would act negligently. This case exemplifies how important it is that Virginia plaintiffs file lawsuits against the appropriate parties, in addition to effectively protecting against any claims of contributory negligence. Virginia victims involved in a chain-reaction car accident should contact an attorney to discuss their rights and potential remedies.

Have You Suffered Injuries in a Multi-Vehicle Car Accident?

If you or a loved one sustained injuries because of a negligent motorist, you should contact the dedicated attorneys at Robinson Law, PLLC. The Virginia car accident attorneys at our law firm understand the importance of zealous advocacy and representation, especially when issues regarding contributory negligence are at issue. We have successfully represented countless clients and recovered substantial damages awards on their behalf. Compensation often includes payments for economic and noneconomic losses, such as medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact the Virginia injury attorneys at our law firm for a free consultation at 703-542-4008.

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