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Understanding Joint And Several Liability

Joint and several liability laws apply to situations where more than one defendant is responsible for a plaintiff's injuries. For example, you can use joint and several liability laws two pursue compensation against two road ragers who rammed into your car. Below is an overview of this unique personal injury law.

The Application

The basic premise of joint and several liability is that you can pursue compensation against one, some, or all defendants. Consider a case where companies A, B, and C are all responsible for your toxic exposure. You can pursue compensation against:

  1. Any one of those companies
  2. Any two of those companies
  3. All of those companies

In addition, the law allows you to collect full damages against the defendant or defendant in any of the three combinations above. Say the companies A, B, and C's toxic exposure caused you damages worth one million dollars. You should be able to get one million as compensation even if you sue Company A alone.

A question of fairness arises when multiple defendants harm someone, but only one of the defendants compensates the victim. The legislatures of joint and several liability laws anticipated this quandary and drafted the law to allow aggrieved defendants to seek reimbursement from their co-defendants.

Say you collect all your damages from Company A, but the company feels that B and C should compensate at least some of your damages. Joint and several liability laws allow Company A to sue the other two companies to recover some compensation.

The Benefit

Joint and several liability laws benefit injury victims in multiple ways. The main benefit is that the law increases your chances of getting your hands on the full compensation money.

Winning an injury lawsuit is one thing, but getting the compensation money is another. For example, you might not see the compensation check if the defendant lacks the money or insurance coverage that can cover the amount.

Joint and several liability reduce the risk of not getting your compensation money. You collect the money from the defendant with deep pockets and ignore those who cannot raise the amount. That way, you get full compensation even if one of your defendants is bankrupt.

Some legal principles, such as joint and several liability, are helpful but complicated. Luckily, you don't have to figure out and apply such laws alone. Contact a personal injury lawyer to evaluate your case, determine the applicable laws, and help you purchase damages.