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Car wash worker dies in chain reaction accident

Sorting out liability in a multi-party accident can often be a critical but difficult task, especially if the mishap involves an employer and employee. The recent death of a worker in a freak multi-car accident at a Northern Virginia car wash shows how complex this analysis can be.

A male employee at the car wash was attempting to move an SUV away from the rear entrance after it had been washed. The SUV then collided with a pickup truck, which then struck a sedan. The sedan struck a female worker and killed her. The exact cause of the chain reaction is unknown at the moment, but depending upon other facts, it may not be relevant.

The central question is whether the other vehicles had drivers or if they had been left unattended and under the supervision of car wash personnel. If the only parties to the accident are the victim and the driver of the SUV, the woman's family will be limited to a claim for workers' compensation benefits under Virginia law. The liability of the owner of the car wash is limited by the workers' compensation regulations, and it will have no further liability after the workers' compensation claim is settled regardless of whether it was at fault for the accident. If, however, a non-employee was driving either of the other vehicles involved in the chain reaction, those drivers may share liability depending upon which of them was negligent. Cars typically move at slow speeds in parking lots and can usually be halted by a relatively light impact. The fact that a person was struck with enough force to be killed suggests that at least one other vehicle had a driver. Another possibility is that one of the intervening vehicles was left by its driver in an improper place that created a hazard that caused the worker's death.

Anyone who has suffered an injury or lost a loved one in a multi-vehicle accident may wish to seek the advice of an experienced accident lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney can evaluate the evidence and law that will govern the case and provide a helpful analysis of the case and the probability of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

Source: NBC Washington, "Car Wash Employee Killed in Work Accident Was a Mom of 3," David Culver, March 26, 2018

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