What Happens if There are Multiple Causes For an Injury?June 21, 2018 | Category: Personal Injury | Share
In every Florida injury lawsuit — slip-and-fall accidents, motor vehicle accidents, product defect accidents and others — causation serves as a foundational element of the claim. If you’ve been injured due to the defendant’s negligence, you must show that the defendant’s negligent actions actually “caused” you to suffer the injuries at issue. In other words, you must show that a natural and continuous sequence of events was created by the defendant’s conduct and that this sequence of events produced the injury at issue.
Causation can become a hotly-disputed issue in your case, depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident. The situation can be further complicated by the existence of multiple defendants, each of whom contributed to your injuries. Fortunately, you may recover from each of the liable defendants — when pursuing such claims, however, you’ll want to consult with an attorney who has experience litigating a range of disputes, including those that have multiple defendants.
Basics of Concurrent Causation
In Florida, multiple defendants may be held responsible for your injuries, even if their negligent actions occurred in conjunction with the others. All that matters is that you demonstrate that you would not have suffered the injuries at-issue were it not for the acts (or failure to act) of each liable defendant. This is known as but-for causation — but for the defendant’s actions, you would have avoided injury.
Consider the following example.
Suppose that you are injured in an ATV accident. The ATV was defectively manufactured, but the owner of the ATV rental service may have also been negligent as they did not properly inspect the vehicles and ensure that they were reasonably safe for guest operation. Each defendant — the manufacturer and the owner of the rental service — is liable, as the injury would not have occurred were it not for their negligence. The circumstances required both parties to be negligent for the accident to happen as it did. Thus, their concurrent negligence is clear.
Defendants Are Responsible for Their Own Fault Contribution
Florida applies the doctrine of pure comparative negligence (otherwise known as pure comparative fault), which enables an injured plaintiff to recover damages, even if they have contributed to the injuries themselves.
For example, if you were injured in a slip-and-fall incident, sustaining damages totaling $50,000, and the court determines that you were 50 percent at-fault, then you would still be entitled to recover $25,000.
Pure comparative negligence also determines the liability of each defendant in cases that involve multiple defendants. Essentially, the court will determine the negligence of each defendant — measured as a percentage of total fault — and will then assign liability in accordance with said determination.
For example, suppose that you were injured in a car accident with damages totaling $50,000, and the court determines that there are two liable defendants (the City and the defendant-driver). Both the City and the defendant-driver are each found to be 50 percent at-fault for your injuries. You would therefore be entitled to sue and recover $25,000 from each defendant, separately.
When litigating an injury claim with multiple defendants, you may find that — if the defendants are clearly liable — the crux of the dispute is between the defendants themselves, who may disagree as to their contribution of fault.
Schedule a Free and Confidential Consultation With an Experienced Fort Myers Personal Injury Lawyer
Those who suffer injuries due to the negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of another party — or multiple liable parties — are given a right of action for damages under Florida law.
Successful litigation of an injury claim against multiple potentially-liable defendants demands skillful advocacy. Call (888) 477-7748 or submit an online case evaluation form today to schedule a free and confidential consultation with Randall Spivey, an experienced Fort Myers personal injury lawyer at the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. He will assess your claims and work with you to determine the best way forward to secure maximum compensation.