Request a Free Consultation
Call Today 614.467.8474

What Is Joint And Several Liability?

One of the questions that a person who has suffered a personal injury may face after the injury is where to go in order to have their medical bills and other losses compensated. If there is only one party responsible for the injuries, this can be an easy question to answer. However, where there are multiple possible tortfeasors (the person who causes the injury), it can become more difficult to know where to start, especially if one of the tortfeasors is insisting that the others are at fault.

The person who suffers the injury often has the option of seeking compensation from one tortfeasor or from all possible tortfeasors, if he knows their identity, and they had a role in the incident that lead to the injury. In most cases, it is advisable to seek compensation from all possible defendants against whom liability can be shown. This approach attempts to ensure that the injured person’s losses are covered in full in the event of a settlement or award.

Generally, if the case proceeds to trial with multiple defendants, the defendant who is ultimately found to be more than fifty percent at fault in causing the injury, shall be jointly and severally liable for all compensatory damages that represent economic loss. Joint and several liability means that the defendant is responsible for his percentage share of the awarded amount, but that if the other defendants do not pay their share, the injured party may seek the whole awarded amount from the first defendant. Defendants who are found liable for intentional torts, such as battery or assault, can be found jointly and severally liable for all economic losses, even when they are found to be less than fifty percent at fault in causing the injury.

As an example, let us say driver A – who is driving a company car – negligently causes an accident that injures driver B. In the subsequent trial, the company that employs driver A is found to be partially liable for the accident for having negligently hired driver A, who has a history of drunk driving. If the company is found to be eighty percent at fault, and driver A is found to be twenty percent at fault, driver B could seek compensation for all his economic losses from the company alone. The company would then have the option of seeking the twenty percent from driver A or absorbing the entire cost. This saves driver B the trouble of having to pursue twenty percent from a defendant who may not be able to afford to pay.

Note that when joint and several liability applies in Ohio, it only applies to economic damages. This means that awards for pain and suffering and other non-economic losses are paid proportionately by each defendant according to his percentage fault.

Contact Us For Legal Assistance

In order to determine how to seek compensation from all liable parties, you need to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. If you were injured as a result of the negligence of multiple people or entities, you may be able to receive compensation from all parties to cover all your losses. Contact Columbus personal injury attorney Ed Schottenstein of Schottenstein Law Offices for a complimentary consultation. Call us TODAY at (614) 467-8474​.