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Jonathan Rosenfeld

January 24, 2022

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Joint and several liability impacts personal injury cases by allowing plaintiffs to seek compensation for their injuries from multiple defendants if one of them is judgment proof and cannot pay.

What is Joint Liability in Personal Injury Cases?

To understand joint and several liability in personal injury law and liability rules, you must understand joint liability and several liability in their separate components.

Joint liability means that multiple parties acted in common to harm injury victims either through negligence or intentional act.

A common example of this legal doctrine in action is medicine and medical malpractice cases.

If multiple doctors worked in concert to produce the harm and resulting damages (economic damages or non-economic damages), then all of these responsible parties can be individually liable for the entire amount of the plaintiff’s injury.

Understanding joint liability means you can seek contribution from the responsible party or more than one person up to the maximum settlement.

You are not allowed to go after other defendants because of the defendant’s liability once you have been fully reimbursed. In other words, joint liability doesn’t let injured parties double dip or get a windfall beyond the entire amount from the responsible party.

Talk to personal injury attorneys to get a free consultation and legal advice about legal liability law as it relates to responsible parties that may be judgment proof.

Our law firm can set up an attorney client relationship with personal injury lawyers to sue more than one person or more than one party.

You are allowed to sue more than one defendant for the entire judgment to recoup non economic damages and economic damages.

Negligence cases allow joint tortfeasors to face the specter of being held responsible for the full judgment or settlement amount if joint liability applies in a liability case.

What is Several Liability Mean in Personal Injury Cases?

The second half of joint and several liability law in personal injury cases includes several liability. Several liability is a legal concept whereby plaintiffs can hod multiple parties severally liable for incidents in a personal injury lawsuit.

Several liability rules relate to situations whereby defendants are liable to plaintiffs for different reasons or for isolated instances of damage. Several liability is distinct different than someone is jointly liability.

The concept of joint liability applies when defendants acted together to produce the plaintiff’s damages – economic damages or economic losses and non economic damages.

When several parties are severally liable to one party or other parties, they acted in separate capacities.

The legal concept of several liability signifies that defendants only have to pay the entire judgment (or percentage of fault) that they cause and not what any other defendant did. This liability rule limits the defendants liability that have severally liability.

Of course, defendants can be jointly and severally liable which we will discuss next. This could help if the defendants don’t have enough money to cover the total damages, others may have deep pockets.

Talk to a personal injury lawyer from our law firm about the liability laws of joint and several liability. Our personal injury attorneys can offer advice and free consultation if liability applies, either or both of several liability or jointly liable.

Joint and several liability can help you recover financial compensation for your economic damage non economic damages. This article may not constitute legal advice.

Joint and Several Liability in Accident Cases

We have discussed when defendants can be jointly liable and severally liable. Now, let us review joint and several liability. Joint and several liability applies when you can use both at the plaintiff’s own choosing.

Joint and several liability allows you to seek all or some of your economic and non economic damages from any jointly liable defendant no matter their percentage of fault. You can seek more or less than the defendant’s proportionate share or direct proportion so long as the jury found them at fault.

Joint and several liability gives you freedom and flexibility in cases.

For example, if you have $500,000 in damages, you can sue one jointly liable defendant for all of that even if they only caused $50,000 worth of harm. Then, according to comparative fault and contribution principles, they can go seek money from the other defendants according to who caused what damages.

However, it is not the responsibility of the plaintiff to mete that out. The law wants to make it easy for aggrieved victims to recover so it allows them to seek full compensation from all defendants.

How Does Joint and Several Liability Affect my Claim?

Joint and several liability will affect your claim in a number of substantial ways. This will be true if you decide to file a case (personal injury, wrongful death, etc.) or go through the insurance process.

The first material impact this will have will be who you target. It can change who you sue so you need to figure out the ramifications of this law on your complaint and draft it accordingly.

Second, this should drastically change how you investigate the circumstances that led to the accident. You may broaden or divert your search and gathering of evidence to account for these new parties.

Third, and finally, you should alter your trial strategy or insurance claim approach to take these new parties into consideration. Who you are pursuing recovery and compensation from should be reflected in your trial advocacy strategy.

Wondering how else these theories of liability will affect your case? Call us now to start crafting the best possible legal strategy to maximize your recovery under the law.

How Does Joint and Several Liability Relate to Your Award or Settlement?

Joint and several liability does not really change the nature and size of your possible jury award or settlement amount.

These facts are predetermined by the individual facts and circumstances of your accident and the injuries that followed from those events.

On the other hand, being able to hold a party jointly and severally liable increases the likelihood that you will be able to recover for your damages.

If one defendant is judgment proof and has no means to pay the damages that he or she caused you, then you can go on to another one at your discretion.

There can be substantial economic damages and non economic damages too in many personal injury cases too including medical care, property damage, lost wages, and more.

Having more people legally responsible makes it more likely that someone will actually pay for the harm they cause.

Talk to Our Attorneys about Joint and Several Liability

The law firm of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC has brought many joint and several liability cases in Illinois and other states for injured victims and their families. We can help you identify the right defendants to join in your cause of action and how to sue them effectively.

Contact us today to get your case started. We work on contingency so you don’t have to pay us a dime if we don’t win. Find out what you could obtain in court or settlement now by calling us (888) 424-5757.

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