If you have a personal injury claim against more than one party, then there are several ways you can approach the case to maximize your recovery. Below are some of the legal approaches you may take, depending on your state.
Joint and Several Liability
In joint and several liability, each defendant is independently responsible for 100% of the injury damages. Thus, as an injury victim, you can pursue your damages against any of the defendants that caused you injury. This is the case even if a defendant is only partially responsible for your injury. If the defendant is not satisfied with the arrangement, they can pursue damages from their codefendants that they feel should also contribute to the damages.
Take an example where three parties (A, B, and C) cause you an injury with total damages of $10,000. Say the liability percentages are 50%, 30%, and 20% for parties A, B, and C, respectively. You can collect the entire $10,000 from party B, even though they are only responsible for $3,000 (30% of your damages). It is then up to party B, if they so wish, to collect the remaining $7,000 from party A and C.
This legal theory has several advantages for plaintiffs. For example, you don't have to prove your case against all the defendants, which is beneficial if you only have a strong case against one defendant. Secondly, you can collect your entire damages from the defendant with the means (insurance coverage or valuable assets) to pay the damages.
Pure Several Liability
In pure several liability, each defendant is only responsible for the damages proportional to their contribution to the accident. Thus, you can only collect a portion of your damages from each defendant. If you want to collect your entire damages, then you have to pursue your damages against each defendant. This means you might fail to get full compensation for your damages if one or more of the defendants do not have the resources (insurance coverage or assets with monetary values).
The main aim of the joint and several liability approach is to ensure injury victims don't suffer just because one of the people who hurt them is unable to pay. However, the approach is also viewed as unjust to defendants who have to shoulder the blame of their codefendants.
For this reason, some states take a hybrid approach in that they can use either approach depending on the circumstances of the case. For example, a state may apply the pure several liability approach in negligence cases but then use the joint and several liability approach in cases where multiple parties conspire to harm another party.
Reach out to a personal injury attorney to learn more.