Suppose you have suffered injuries in an accident involving multiple defendants. In that case, you most likely are confused about how the number of defendants can affect your personal injury claims. According to 1-800-Injured in Miami, you are allowed to sue and seek compensation from multiple defendants in Florida, as long as you can prove negligence on the part of each defendant. Let’s see what happens in personal injury claims with multiple defendants.
- 1 Florida’s Comparative Fault
- 2 Florida’s Pure Several Liability in Personal Injury Cases
- 3 The Personal Injury Case: Step by Step
- 4 Bottom Line
Florida’s Comparative Fault
Under Florida’s comparative fault system, each party that caused your injuries should have their fault assessed and apportioned to them after an investigation. After each defendant is assigned blame, they must pay the plaintiff according to their percentage of fault.
To better understand the comparative fault system, consider the following situation. If the first defendant is found the most at fault, with a percentage of 50%, the second defendant is 30% at fault, and the third defendant is at fault for the remaining 20%, then the court uses these percentages to determine what each defendant must pay you. With total damages of $200,000, the first defendant must pay you $100,000; the second and third defendants must pay $60,000 and $40,000 respectively.
On the other hand, under pure comparative fault, if you are partly at fault for your injuries, your potential damage recovery will be reduced by your assigned percentage of the total fault. If you’re 30% at fault for your injuries, your damage recovery will be reduced by 30%.
Florida’s Pure Several Liability in Personal Injury Cases
In 2016, Florida applied pure several liability in personal injury cases involving multiple defendants. This makes the personal injury case a more complex issue, so it would be best to consider an experienced personal injury attorney.
Simply put, pure several liability means that you will get separate compensation from each defendant, and the compensation should reflect the specific liability. However, when your personal injury case includes multiple defendants, they will most likely not agree on how much fault they have been responsible for. Thus, such situations can lead to disagreement and conflict between the parties at fault.
The personal injury case can quickly escalate if your existing defendants state that other liable defendants have not been named. At this stage, you and your attorney should identify all the potential defendants and bring them into the lawsuit. Generally, success in such complex personal injury cases requires the help of a professional personal injury attorney with vast experience litigating against multiple defendants.
The Personal Injury Case: Step by Step
There are several steps one should take in personal injury cases:
#1. Seek Medical Help
Regardless of your type of accident, seek medical help immediately after you have been injured. The medical records, bills, police reports, or other documentation will be vital evidence for your personal injury case.
#2. Gather Evidence
Gather as much evidence as possible. You should start by taking photos of your injuries and the accident scene, get contact information from witnesses, take videos of your surroundings, and more. Also, get the contact and insurance information of the multiple defendants.
#3. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney
If you suffered injuries in an accident due to someone’s recklessness or negligence, getting help from an attorney is vital to help you seek compensation. Remember that while you have four years to file your claim, the sooner you start your case, the better. Usually, personal injury cases that involve multiple defendants may take longer to get resolved.
#4. Contact the Multiple Defendants’ Insurance Companies
If you are injured in an auto accident, contact your insurance company to determine whether your injuries are covered under the medical insurance portion of coverage. Moreover, you must contact multiple defendants’ insurance companies so they can pay for your expenses. Your attorney will help you prepare a formal letter to each insurance company, including the cause of the accident, your injuries, the medical treatment, lost wages, and the pain and suffering involved.
#5. File a Complaint
In some cases, the insurance companies won’t accept your demand letter declining to pay your claim. Your personal injury attorney must file a complaint in the Florida court system, outlining all the evidence already stated in the demand letter.
#6. Finalize the Medical Treatment
If your medical treatment goes on for a while, you may want to wait until you are recovered, so your compensation will include all the medical expenses.
#7. Go to Trial
It has been estimated that only 4 to 5% of all personal injury claims are settled in court. If your case goes to trial, a judge or jury must listen to your side of the story and the defendants’. Your attorney must present all the evidence and facts to the jury or judge, concluding that all the defendants have breached Florida’s duty of care. Then, the judge or jury will determine your fate. If your case gets dismissed before the court or you lose your case, you still have the option of filing an appeal.
If your case gets resolved outside the court, you may receive your compensation within two weeks. However, if your personal injury case is decided in the courtroom, you may receive the payment within 21 days.
If you have been injured in an accident and think your case involves multiple defendants, seek help from a professional personal injury attorney immediately. Under Florida law, as long as you can prove the negligence or recklessness of each defendant, you can sue multiple defendants to receive compensation. Regardless if you are partly at fault for your accident, you may still be eligible to receive some compensation to help you in your recovery process and get back to your life.
Disclaimer: 1-800-Injured is an attorney and medical referral service.