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Rockford personal injury attorneysWinter weather is in full force in the Rockford area, and icy roads and deep snow can make driving a treacherous task. “Pile-ups” or car accidents involving multiple vehicles are not uncommon during this time of year. These accidents cannot only lead to painful and often deadly injuries, they also present complex legal and financial issues. If you or a loved one were involved in a multi-car accident, you may have concerns about liability and damages. Will you be expected to pay for other motorists’ damages? Will you be compensated for your own damages? Read on to learn more about the unique issues involved in multiple-vehicle accidents.

Establishing Fault for a Multiple-Car Collision

Accidents involving three or more vehicles can cause severe and deadly injuries as well as costly property damage. Before a car accident victim can recover financial compensation for their damages, the liable party must be established. The greater number of factors that contributed to an accident, the harder it is to establish fault. A multiple car accident may involve situations such as:

  • A vehicle rear-ends another vehicle and causes it to collide with a third vehicle.  
  • Two vehicles collide and one of the vehicles is pushed into oncoming traffic where a secondary collision occurs.
  • Drivers swerve to avoid stopped vehicles on the road, fallen truck cargo, or other obstacles and cause an accident.
  • Establishing fault in accidents such as these is much harder than establishing fault in accidents involving only two motorists. Fault for a multi-car pile up may lie with one or more drivers, a commercial company such as a trucking company, or even a government entity such as a city or state.

Shared Liability in Pile-up Accidents

In many multiple-vehicle accidents, there is more than one liable party. Illinois follows a legal doctrine called “modified comparative negligence” in car accident injury cases involving shared liability. If a party is found to be more than 50 percent at fault for an accident, that party is prohibited from recovering compensation for damages. If the party is less than 50 percent responsible for the accident, the amount of compensation he or she may be entitled to is reduced by his or her portion of fault.

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Winnebago County personal injury attorneyMost personal injury lawsuits are brought against an individual whose negligent or intentional wrongdoing caused another person injury or death. For example, if a driver who is too busy texting and driving to watch the road causes an accident, a person injured in the accident may sue the driver. Many personal injury lawsuits involve drunk drivers. An individual who is driving under the influence of alcohol and gets in a car crash may be held liable for damages caused by the accident.  However, you may be surprised to learn that a personal injury claim can also be brought against a vendor who sold alcohol to an individual who causes you injury. These claims are called “dram shop liability” claims.

Illinois Law Regarding Dram Shop Liability

Illinois statute allows a person injured by someone under the influence of alcohol to bring a claim against the vendor who supplied the intoxicated person alcohol. The claim may be in response to personal injury, wrongful death, or property damage. 

Consider the following example: A man visits a bar where he consumes several alcoholic drinks. His blood alcohol is over the legal limit but he decides to drive home anyway. On the way home, he crashes into another vehicle causing the other driver to suffer several major injuries as well as substantial vehicle damage. The driver injured in the crash may sue the drunk driver himself or the bar that supplied the man with alcohol. A bar, restaurant, or other establishment that serves alcohol does not have to continue to serve a patron past the point of intoxication in order to be potentially liable under Illinois dram shop liability laws. For a dram shop claim to be successful, the following conditions must be present:

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