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Liability questions are complicated after multi-car crashes

A chain-reaction, multiple-vehicle accident creates a scene of chaos. When vehicles traveling at highway speeds collide into each other, drivers often don't have time to react safely. They may not even know what him them. In the aftermath of these accidents, even people who were not injured can have a hard time saying with any certainty what happened.

Last month, police arrested a man they say caused a deadly multi-car pileup in Roanoke. Prosecutors charged the man with involuntary manslaughter, and he may face further charges. Officials said they believe drugs and alcohol were involved in the accident.

Criminal charges can bring a sense of justice to the injured and the community at large, but they don't necessarily help the injured with their medical expenses, lost income and other damages. To recover compensation for their damages, they may have to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.

In a typical car accident caused by a negligent driver, the injured can hold the negligent driver liable for their damages, but first they have to show that the driver was negligent, and that they caused the accident through negligence.

For instance, a driver who is looking at his cellphone instead of at the road ahead is acting negligently. But to hold that driver liable, the injured must show that it was this act of negligence that caused the accident, and not some other factor.

This is an especially complicated question in cases involving multi-vehicle accidents. If Driver A acts negligently and crashes into Driver B, and Driver B's car is forced into Driver C's car, the court must determine whether Driver A is liable for Driver C's damages, and whether Driver B could have done anything differently.

The injuries caused by these accidents can be severe, the medical expenses extreme and the pain and suffering intense. It's important for the injured and their families to speak to an experienced attorney.

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