Tort Components: Joint & Several Liability

Modified on 2009/10/14 21:36 by admin
The doctrine of joint and several liability is applicable when more than one Defendant is legally responsible for your injury or property damage. The doctrine can be very helpful to Plaintiffs. When Defendant 1 has no money to pay the judgment, i.e., he is poor and thus "judgment proof," while Defendant 2 is a wealthy individual or corporation, you can apply the doctrine to Defendant 2 who is then required to pay not only his share of the judgment, but Defendant 1's share as well.

For example, imagine that you have been injured in an auto accident where another driver rear-ended your car. Imagine that your lawyer was successful in proving that the driver of the car, Defendant 1, was negligent by not stopping his car in time to avoid a collision with your car. Imagine further that your lawyer also proved that the manufacturer of the car, Defendant 2, was negligent by installing faulty brakes. Unfortunately, Defendant 1 is bankrupt and unemployed, and, while negligent, he cannot possibly afford to compensate you for your injuries and damage to your car. However, Defendant 2 is a very wealthy corporation, capable of paying large judgments. Under the concept of joint & several liability, the judge will require Defendant 2, the car''s manufacturer, to pay the entire judgment. In other words, Defendant 2 must pay both his portion of the judgment and Defendant 1's portion.

There are many restrictions on the use of joint & several liability by injury victims. Unfortunately, many states have either eliminated the use of joint & several liability or greatly reduced the circumstances in which it can be employed by an injury victim.

See Also

  1. About Personal InjuryTorts
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