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Who is liable when a drunk driver causes a multiple car crash?

In late March, a drunk driver caused a three-car accident in Erie, resulting in several serious injuries requiring hospitalization. The crash serves as yet another notice of the dangers intoxicated and distracted drivers cause on our streets and highways.

In this particular incident, the crash occurred in the late evening on the intersection of West 12th and Cherry. The intoxicated driver ignored a red light and broadsided an SUV legally turning through the intersection. Most of the injuries to innocent passengers occurred when the car was pushed into the path of a church van transporting more than a dozen congregation members. 

Where does liability fall in the case of multiple car accidents?

Altough the drunk driver only struck one car, he may ultimately be held liable for all resulting "colateral" injuries and property damage caused to other vehicles and persons at the scene. If the SUV driver had been making an illegal turn which contributed to causing the accident or the extent of damages in some way, he may also share in a percentage of the liability.

Likewise, the church van driver may also be held partially liable if it can be shown that he was driving illegally. The DUI driver may also try to show that injured passengers in the van were not wearing seat belts or the van was known to be inherently dangerous in crashes. However, attacking the van's safety record would likely be a product liability matter, possibly handled in separate litigation.  

No matter where the percentages of liability may fall in a multiple car accident, the DUI driver is likely to face criminal charges for vehicular assault or vehicular homicide in the event of injuries or a death caused at the scene.  

Have you or a loved one been involved in a multi-car accident? If so, contact a personal injury lawyer at the Quinn Law Firm by calling 814-833-2222 for a free consultation to find out what legal options you may have.

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