Accident victims in California can pursue a damage claim against those who hurt them. Victims can file a personal injury lawsuit, while family members of a deceased victim can make a wrongful death claim. The purpose of a lawsuit is to receive compensation for financial losses, such medical costs and loss of income due to injury, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.
The toll a personal injury can have on a victim and his or her family can be significant, so it is important to explore all options for recovering full compensation. In certain situations, there may be multiple individuals, businesses, and/or government agencies who are legally accountable to an accident victim. When this happens, a lawsuit or claim can be filed against more than one person. Each person and/or entity sued (defendant) can either settle with the victim (plaintiff) separately outside of court, or the case will proceed to trial.
Suing Multiple Defendants For Injury Losses
Injured victims can file a claim against multiple people or entities who share the blame for causing them harm. This can occur:
- When the actions of multiple people led to the accident that caused the injury. For example, when there is a multi-car collision where the impact of the first crash forces a rear-ended car into the car in front of it, the driver in the last car hit could sue the drivers in the cars behind him, if those drivers were following too closely.
- When, while doing their job, an employee causes an accident which results in someone being injured. Workers are considered to be acting on behalf of their employers when performing work duties. If the employee is negligent, the employer is also considered negligent. A victim injured by a negligent employee could thus sue both the worker and his employer. For example, a truck driver, and the trucking company that employs him, could be sued if the driver causes a crash after driving too many hours.
California’s rules for determining how multiple defendants divide up their responsibility for a plaintiff’s damages are found in California Civil Code Sections 1430-1432 which addresses “joint and several liability.” In essence, a plaintiff can sue and recover the full amount of his or her financial damages from any defendant, regardless of what percentage a particular defendant was to blame for the accident. This allows the injured person to obtain full compensation for his or her financial losses even when one or more of the responsible parties do not have the financial resources to cover their share.
With regard to non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, however, the code specifies that “Each defendant shall be liable only for the amount of non-economic damages allocated to that defendant in direct proportion to that defendant’s percentage of fault, and a separate judgment shall be rendered against that defendant for that amount.”
This means that when there are multiple defendants, any one of them may be responsible for 100% of a plaintiff’s economic damages, but each is only responsible for non-economic damages in proportion to their share of the fault.
Getting Help from a Long Beach Personal Injury Attorney
Your Injuries are Personal to Me
An experienced Long Beach personal injury attorney can determine who is responsible for damages and who can be sued. An attorney can also provide assistance in helping injured accident victims understand how the rules of joint and several liability affect their changes of receiving maximum compensation for their injuries.
Call the Law Office of Michael D. Waks at 888-394-1174 or use the convenient online contact form to schedule a free consultation to speak with a Long Beach personal injury attorney to learn how I can help you if you’ve been harmed. You will be under no obligation and you will never pay any money unless you recover compensation for your losses.
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