What is Joint and Several Liability in a Personal Injury Claim?

When a plaintiff wins a personal injury case, they will get compensation from the at-fault party. Most cases will have a single at-fault party from whom you can claim your losses. But sometimes, there will be more than one at-fault party.

In such cases, joint and several liability laws is enforced. According to the joint and several liability rule, the plaintiff is eligible to claim compensation from all the defendants or from one particular defendant, as they wish. This rule heavily favors the plaintiffs.

The intervention of experienced personal injury lawyers is mandatory in cases involving multiple at-fault parties due to the complexities that come with them. An experienced lawyer can gather evidence against all the at-fault parties and prove their part in causing the accident.

A Scenario to Understand Joint and Several Liability

John is a victim of a car accident. His car accident was caused by three members: Lily, Mike, and Sophie. Luckily, John is aware of personal injury law and files a case against all three of them with the help of a lawyer.

His lawyer gathers evidence and proves the negligence of all three parties. Now the judge rules in John’s favor and offers compensation of $300,000. If it is a single at-fault party case, John can get his money from that party. But here, three parties share liability for the accident.

Now, John can decide how he wants his compensation. He can either get all $300,000 from the same person or $100,000 from each. This law is known as joint and several liability.

Types of Joint and Several Liability

There are two types of joint and several liability: Pure joint and several liability and pure several liability.

Pure Joint and Several Liability

If your state follows the pure joint and several liability law, then all the at-fault parties are responsible for the total amount of the plaintiff’s losses. It means that all the defendants are equally responsible, and the plaintiff can split the amount between the at-fault parties in any way they like.

Pure Several Liability

If your state follows the pure several liability law, then each at-fault party is responsible for compensating for the percentage of their fault. For example, if the total compensation is $100,000, and one of the defendants shares 30% of the fault for the accident, then that particular defendant should contribute $30,000 to the total compensation.

How Joint and Several Liability Help Plaintiffs

Joint and several liability favors the victims greatly by letting them claim full compensation even if one defendant doesn’t have enough money. It is common that the defendants can’t pay the full compensation when the settlement amount is too high. That is not the case in joint and several liability cases.

Arguments Against the Joint and Several Liability Rule

Many have been vocal about their stand against the joint and several liability rule because of the unfair burden it brings to the defendant. As said, in these cases, all defendants are fully responsible for the entire compensation amount. It is unfair because some defendants may be less responsible for the accident than others.

For example, if a case involves two defendants and one is 90% responsible, and the other is 10% responsible, according to joint and several liability, both defendants are responsible for the whole amount. This is unfair to the defendant, who is 10% responsible for the accident.

Final Thoughts

Joint and several liability is both good and bad at the same time. However, if you are a plaintiff, the system does favor you. If your case involves more than one at-fault party, your case will come under the joint and several liability rule. Speak with your lawyer and take full advantage of the rule.

Photo of author

Libby Austin

Libby Austin, the creative force behind alltheragefaces.com, is a dynamic and versatile writer known for her engaging and informative articles across various genres. With a flair for captivating storytelling, Libby's work resonates with a diverse audience, blending expertise with a relatable voice.
Share on:

Leave a Comment