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Sorting out liability in multi-car accidents not necessarily an easy matter, P.2

Previously, we began look at the topic of multi-car accidents, and the challenges with determining liability in these cases. As we noted last time, one of the challenges in determining liability is getting the facts straight. With multiple individuals involved in an accident, especially an accident that occurs over a period of time rather than as a single event, this can be difficult.

Another challenge with determining liability in multi-car accidents is clarifying the issues of legal duty and proximate causation. In any personal injury case, a plaintiff must be able to provide sufficient evidence for each element of the case. When the claim is based on negligence, this includes four basic elements: duty; breach; causation; and harm. 

The general duty, for any driver, is to exercise reasonable care in the operation of a motor vehicle. Exactly what constitutes reasonable care can vary, though, depending on the circumstances. When multiple cars are involved in an accident, the lines between one driver’s duty to exercise reasonable care and another driver’s duty to exercise reasonable care can easily become blurred, particularly when the accident happens quickly.

Another issue is identifying which actions served as the “proximate cause” of the plaintiff’s injuries. Even if a defendant breached his or her legal duty, if the breach doesn’t serve as the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s damages, a case for negligence cannot be made. When multiple actors are involved, sorting out proximate causation can become difficult since causes can interconnect and combine, and what appears to be a cause of the injuries may in fact not be, at least not to the extent the plaintiff claims it is.

In any multi-car accident, of course, it is crucial for accident victims to work with an experienced attorney to protect their rights, help them to navigate the process, and to maximize their damages award. This is particularly important in cases where litigation becomes complicated, with defendants citing counterclaims and cross-claims. 

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