In a personal injury case, there are a few parties involved that must be considered. Most often, the parties involved are the plaintiff and the defendant; the plaintiff being the party who was injured and the defendant being the person accused of causing the injury.
Typically, the plaintiff is one person who suffered an injury and the defendant is one person who is considered liable for the injury. However, there are some situations that can involve multiple parties on either end of the case.
As with any personal injury case, determining liability is one of the most important aspects of pursuing compensation. When there’s more than one party involved, several liability must be considered, and there may also be joint liability or situations involving both. Here are some of the things that you should know about what these terms refer to and what you should know about moving forward.
What Is Several Liability?
Several liability is an area of personal injury law that determines percentages of injuries based on multiple party’s contributions to the negligent-related incident. One of the situations in which several liability comes into play is a multi-car collision.
Consider the situation: You’re in your car, approaching a yellow light so you begin to slow down carefully and stop as the light turns red. The car behind you collides into your rear end, jolting you forward. A second later, you feel another impact as another car crashes into the one behind you, putting the other vehicle into your rear end again and causing further damage to your vehicle and injuries to you and your passengers.
Finally, you feel a third slam, this time a larger truck hits the vehicle two behind you and it results in even further injuries sustained. If all three parties were considered negligent because they were speeding, distracted, or otherwise driving recklessly, several liability can come into play to determine how much each party contributed to the crash.
How Does Several Liability Work?
Several liability separates the responsibilities of each party to pay for the percentage of the injury and damage which they caused. For instance, in the situation above, if the two vehicle drivers were each responsible for 25% of the damages and the truck driver was responsible for 50% of the damages, each would have to pay out the total based on their contributions.
In this case, if a verdict or settlement awarded to the plaintiff totaled $1 million, the two drivers would be responsible for $250,000 each, while the truck driver would be responsible for $500,000 based on their contributions.
How Does This Differ from Joint Liability?
With joint liability, the defendants involved in the personal injury case are all considered responsible for the full damages owed to the defendant as they were all considered liable. In terms of responsibility to pay, this obligation falls on all parties and if one were to pass away, the other two would still need to ensure the full payment is made to the plaintiff.
In a situation where one party pays the entire amount of the compensation to the plaintiff, the other defendant(s) cannot be sued again as any amount paid by them would be in excess of the compensation awarded. The losses would be completely remedied, even if by one person who was considered liable.
It is not common in personal injury cases, but can apply in situations such as medical malpractice where two surgeons operate on a patient and their actions result in the patient sustaining further harm.
How Is Liability Determined?
With several liability, it is imperative to determine the cause of the accident and how everyone involved may have contributed to the accident. In determining the percentage of liability, the courts can order each party to pay a specific amount to the plaintiff based on how much of the accident they contributed to.
This means the individual who files the lawsuit must take specific steps to help prove liability of more than one party. This can seem like a complicated task, but you should be sure to have someone with legal knowledge on your side to recognize what you should look for.
In many instances, proving several liability requires some of the same things you would need in any personal injury case. However, statements from witnesses and local enforcement officers can really help in aiding your case as this can give your legal team a clearer layout regarding how the accident happened, if one party was acting more negligent than another, and who is liable for what.
About Our Firm
At Strong-Garner-Bauer, we recognize that a car accident involving multiple people who can be at fault may be difficult to comprehend. You’re already dealing with the physical pain, financial hardship, and emotional damage associated with the situation and you may be unsure of what rights you have.
We make it a priority to educate you on what comes next so you can be fully prepared to take on the defendants in a manner that focuses solely on your best interests, regardless of how many people are considered liable. We’ll explain what options you have, build a strong case strategy on your behalf, and advocate your rights moving forward.
With our Springfield personal injury lawyers on your side, you can feel confident every step of the way knowing your rights are safeguarded. Trust in our team to be the ones you can rely on to pursue compensation and justice on your behalf.