Connecticut 3-Car Crash Leads to Civil and Criminal Liability

While stopped at the Governor's Hill intersection of Route 67, in Oxford, Connecticut, the 23-year-old driver of a Dodge Neon was rear-ended and pushed into oncoming traffic by a pickup truck. The crash happened so quickly that the driver of an SUV had no time to stop and collided with the Neon. The driver of the Neon was seriously injured and later pronounced dead at Waterbury Hospital.

Although the driver of the pickup declined medical assistance and was not charged at the scene, a warrant was issued for his arrest. Upon learning of it, he turned himself in. The driver faces charges of negligent homicide in causing the death of the driver whom he rear-ended.

Although it was the crash with the SUV that caused the fatal injuries, the driver of the pickup initiated the chain-reaction crash, ultimately triggering all resulting injuries.

Complex Liability Issues in Chain-Reaction Crashes

In situations involving multiple vehicles and potentially multiple injuries, determining who caused what requires recreating the series of events and untangling the facts. In Connecticut, rear-end collisions are almost always considered to be the fault of the driver in the vehicle behind.

Often with chain-reaction crashes, there is a limited amount of insurance to cover a great deal of damage. From car repairs to medical costs to compensation for wrongful death, a chain reaction crash can have as many unforeseen consequences as the initial collision.

Concurrent Civil and Criminal Liability

It is also possible that the same series of events can lead to criminal liability as well. The Double Jeopardy Clause of the U.S Constitution, disallowing "any person be[ing] subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb," relates only to criminal, not civil jeopardy.

While criminal prosecutions are intended to serve the public's interest in seeing that justice is served, civil liability is intended to restore the plaintiff to where he or she was prior to the defendant's bad acts. Despite the claims arising out of the same acts, separate trials may be had to determine civil and criminal liability.

Any motor vehicle accident can have complex, unforeseen and unintended consequences. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights if you or your family member has been injured due to the negligence of another.