In the area of personal injury, the term “joint and several liability” refers to the responsibility under the law that each person has when more than one person is involved in causing the same injury. The term actually refers to two separate forms of liability – joint liability and several liability. Here is what Joplin personal injury attorneys know when it comes to this type of case.
Defining these two forms of liability
Joint liability means that every person who is responsible for the injury is responsible for the full cost of the injury, regardless of the fact that more than one person is involved. On the other hand, several liability means that every person responsible for the injury is only responsible for the portion of the injury he or she actually caused. Joplin personal injury attorneys understand how these two types of liability work.
How does joint and several liability work?
What joint and several liability actually means is that each person at-fault is responsible for the full cost of damages for the injury. However, if they pay the full cost, they can recover the amount they overpaid from the other at-fault parties involved. So, if it is difficult or impossible to determine the portion of fault to assign to each person, then you can recover from one or the other.
Later, they can sort out amongst themselves whether one of them owes the other for “overpaying” his portion of the damages. That type of transaction is known as contribution. Regardless, the injured party can receive no more than 100 percent of what is owed. In some cases, a court will actually determine the specific amount each party is responsible for paying.
The purpose of joint and several liability
As Joplin personal injury attorneys recognize, the main purpose of joint and several liability is that, by requiring everyone who is responsible for the injury of another, that person is more likely to receive full compensation. This is true regardless of whether the at-fault parties are not equally responsible for the injury. For example, if at-fault party A is 90 percent at fault, but both at-fault parties are required to pay 100 percent, then the injured party is more likely to be compensated even if party A has no money.
How much can you recover for damages?
The amount of compensation you may recover after a car accident depends on the type of damages you suffered. Each claim is different, both factually and with regard to which laws apply to your claim. The most important element used in determining the value of a car accident claim is the nature and seriousness of your injuries.
What is the real purpose of a damages award?
The purpose of a damages award in a personal injury case is to make the victim “whole.” This basically means compensating the victim for everything was lost as a result of the accident or injury. The only way to accomplish that is through a monetary award. Every legal claim is different, both factually and with regard to the laws that apply. The most important component in determining the value of a personal injury claim is the nature and seriousness of the actual injuries. The purpose of a damages award in a personal injury case is to make the victim “whole.” This basically means compensating the victim for everything was lost as a result of the accident or injury. The only way to do accomplish that is through a monetary award.
In most car accident cases, the primary component of damages is medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident. Reimbursement for medical treatment basically includes compensation for treatment already received, as well as the estimated costs of any medical care that may be required in the future. Additionally, the injuries suffered can have a substantial impact on the victim’s ability to return to work, either temporarily or permanently. In that case, damages may include future income.
Emotional Distress and Pain and Suffering
Another important component of damages in nearly every car accident case is compensation for pain and suffering. If you suffer pain and severe discomfort at the time of the injury, as well as ongoing pain, that is a separate type of damages for which compensation may be available. Another thing to consider is the effect of more severe injuries, which often lead to emotional distress damages for the psychological impact of the injuries.
If you have questions regarding liability and damages or any other personal injury issues in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation, either online or by calling toll-free at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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