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A Sunday evening car accident in the Twin Cities killed one person and left two critically injured. According to the Minnesota State Patrol, the St. Paul car accident happened on I-94 near Lexington Avenue at 10:40 p.m.

The accident victim, a 21-year-old Iowa State student, hit a car while merging his truck onto I-94. That car rolled over and blocked the left lane of traffic. The student and another motorist pulled over to help the driver of the rolled-over car. Shortly thereafter, a minivan hit the car and people on the side of the highway, killing the student and seriously injuring the Good Samaritan.

The driver of the minivan has been arrested for drunk driving.

Who Is Liable in a Pileup?

It is no surprise that determining liability after a pileup accident is more complicated than after an accident involving only two vehicles. In the St. Paul I-94 accident, there are additional factors at play. Not only was there a rollover accident, but there was also a subsequent drunk driving accident that caused additional injury.

Minnesota is a no-fault state, which means that the accident victims and their families must first turn to their own auto insurances for compensation for their injuries, regardless of fault. After they have exhausted compensation available from their own insurance companies, they can bring a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. For example, the individual in the car that rolled over on I-94 may be able to hold both the truck driver and the minivan driver liable for her injuries.

When drunk driving is involved, the emotional and financial stakes are even higher. Victims of Minnesota drunk driving accidents can request punitive damages in addition to damages for their medical bills, pain and suffering and other costs. Punitive damages are meant to punish drunk drivers for their reckless choices and to deter future drunk driving accidents.

Source: Star Tribune, “One Dead, Two Critical in I-94 Crash in St. Paul; One Man Arrested,” Paul Walsh, Dec. 19, 2011.