After a personal injury, you may see or hear the joint liability phrase. It is a legal concept that determines who pays what in a case where multiple parties contribute to someone’s personal injury. Nevada law is a bit unique. In most cases, only multiple responsibilities apply.
Although this is generally the case, there are a few key exceptions. If you have suffered injuries after an accident, it is important that you familiarize yourself with any legal concepts that may apply to you. This will help you better identify what you will need to do to get the maximum compensation available and recover so you can get on with your life. This is what you need to know about joint and several liability in cases of personal injury in Nevada .
Understand joint responsibility
You have probably heard the phrase of joint responsibility as a long phrase. They are actually two different concepts. The distinction is important because Nevada is one of several states that distinguishes between joint liability and multiple liability.
What is joint liability?
Joint liability is the idea that multiple parties can be held liable for the full amount of the injured person’s damages. When there are multiple defendants, and joint liability applies, each party is liable to the victim for the full amount of their losses. It doesn’t matter who pays the victim. While the victim can only be recovered once, each and every person responsible is hooked for the full amount.
What is the responsibility of several
Various responsibilities mean the distribution of responsibilities among the responsible persons. When multiple liabilities apply, a liable party only owes its share of the victim’s losses. If another responsible party does not pay their share, the victim cannot go to the other defendants to recover the margin and cover the defendant who does not pay. Instead, the victim must collect from each responsible defendant separately.
For example, let’s say Pat, Kat, and Matt are parties in a personal injury lawsuit. Pat and Kat act negligently to cause the accident. Matt has injuries.
Matt files a lawsuit against Pat and Kat to recover for their damages. The jury decides that Pat is 30 percent responsible for Matt’s injuries. Kat is 70 percent responsible. Total damages amount to $ 50,000.
In the event of joint liability, both Pat and Kat must pay for Matt’s damages. If each party pays $ 25,000 or one party pays the entire $ 50,000, both parties are legally responsible for paying the full amount. If one party ends up paying the full judgment, you can request a contribution from the other to pay your share.
If multiple liabilities apply, the victim must collect from each defendant for their part. In Pat and Kat’s case, Pat’s 30 percent liability is $ 15,000. That’s all Pat has to pay. Kat’s 70 percent liability is $ 35,000. Even if Kat does not pay the sentence, there is nothing Matt can do to make Pat pay Kat’s share when various responsibilities apply.
Nevada law uses a modified comparative negligence system. Nevada Revised Statute 41.141 is the relevant law. In most negligence cases, only multiple liabilities apply in Nevada. That means the victim must look to each responsible party to recover from the defendant’s share of the victim’s losses.
When does joint liability apply in Nevada?
There are some situations in Nevada where joint liability is still valid. When the defendant’s liability is strict liability, they have to pay the full amount. When a defendant acts intentionally to injure a victim or when two or more persons conspire to act together, joint liability applies. It also applies in cases of toxic or dangerous substances and cases of product liability. However, only various liabilities apply in most negligence cases, including many car accidents.
Negligent and Intentional Actors – The Cafe Moda Case
An interesting question is what happens when an incident involves negligent and intentional actors. The Nevada courts answered this question in Cafe Moda, LLC v. Palma (2012) . In that case, the victim and another individual go to Café Moda as clients. While there, the victim and the other employer get into a fight. The other boss stabs the victim.
The victim files a case against the other employer and against Café Moda. The victim wants Cafe Moda to share joint and several liability for the victim’s injuries. The jury decides that the employer acted intentionally to cause injury to the victim. They said that Cafe Moda’s actions are just negligence. Additionally, the jury said that Cafe Moda is only responsible for 20 percent of the victim’s injuries.
Nevada courts say that in a case like this, only the defendant who acts intentionally is 100 percent responsible for the victim’s injuries. They say it is unfair to impose 100 percent liability on a party that only acts negligently just because another responsible party acts intentionally. The court in the Cafe Moda case required the cafe to pay only 20 percent of the victim’s damages under Nevada’s liability law.
What is comparative negligence?
It is important to understand the difference between joint and several liability and comparative negligence. Nevada law 41.141 also talks about comparative negligence. Comparative negligence is the idea that a victim may be partially at fault for their own injuries. When that happens, the victim is not recovered for the part of their damages that represents their own liability for the accident. If the victim is more than 50 percent responsible for what happened, they cannot recover at all.
If comparative negligence is applied, the total amount the victim can recover from the responsible parties is reduced. Comparative negligence is similar to various liabilities. However, the other responsible party is the plaintiff in the action. Comparative negligence can completely prevent a plaintiff’s recovery if they are more than 50 percent at fault.
How can an attorney help?
Joint liability under Nevada law can make a personal injury case more complicated. In some cases, it can create unique challenges for a victim. When joint or several liability may be an issue in your case, a qualified Las Vegas personal injury attorney can help you evaluate and pursue your case in light of how these legal concepts could affect your claim.
It is important to present the matter clearly to the jury and give them the evidence to dispense the ruling in the way that is most favorable to you. When multiple liabilities apply, your attorney can help you prepare a strategy to collect your judgment from the responsible parties as soon as possible. They can work with you to help you understand how the law applies and what you need to do to maximize your claim.