How Will Multiple Defendants or Causes Affect My Personal Injury Case?

Personal injury cases can quickly become complicated when multiple parties are involved. Thankfully, Michigan law has procedures in place that dictate how these cases are handled. Although dealing with multiple defendants can understandably become stressful for a victim of an injury, a qualified attorney can navigate the law surrounding these cases in a similar manner to a regular personal injury case.

In cases of multiple defendants

In some personal injury cases, multiple defendants can be found at fault for a single injury. As an example, take the case of a DUI accident. If the driver of the responsible vehicle was over-served alcohol before driving their vehicle and causing an accident, the bar owner could be found partially responsible for the injuries sustained from that accident, as well as the driver. By over-serving the driver, the bar is potentially partially responsible for the injury because they were negligent in their overserving, as well as the driver, who was negligent by driving under the influence. 

This is known as “joint liability,” and means that damages can be obtained from multiple defendants. The jury (or the court)  will determine a fair amount of damages through the normal process of a personal injury case, which will be the maximum that can be recovered. Because Michigan law is based on comparative negligence, the injured person can recover those damages from any of the defendants, but only up to the amount that they were found to be negligent. For example, if the determined amount of damages is $100,000, and one defendant is 60% at fault, while another is 20% (with the remaining 20% of the fault being that of the plaintiff), the first could only pay a maximum of $60,000 in damages, while the other $20,000 would need to be paid by the second.

In cases of multiple claims against a single defendant

Consider a case where a single negligent driver hits multiple vehicles, causing injuries to multiple drivers. In most cases, damages for personal injury cases are paid from the insurance of the defendant. All injured drivers will have a claim against the negligent driver, but the recovery for their damages may be limited by the amount of insurance the negligent driver has. For example, if a negligent driver has policy limits of “$100,000 per person/$300,000 per occurrence, and four people get injured, then the most any one person can receive is $100,000, and the most all four injured people can receive collectively is $300,000. But if the plaintiffs have underinsured motorist coverage, their own insurance may step in to cover the remainder of the damages. If the defendant does not have insurance, the plaintiff’s own uninsured persons coverage may instead cover the claim.

Although these cases may seem difficult, they can become substantially easier to navigate with the help of experienced legal counsel. Carla D. Aikens, P.L.C. has the experience necessary to handle your personal injury case and provide proven results. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

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