On December 15, 2013, a Tampa motorcyclist died after being involved in an accident with two other drivers on I-75. According to The Tampa Tribune, the Tampa man was riding his motorcycle onto I-75 at Gibsonton Drive when he crossed the median lane leading to the highway. He was hit by a car while entering the highway and was thrown from his motorcycle into the middle lane where he was struck by another vehicle. The motorcyclist died at the scene and there were other minor injuries in the vehicles involved in the accident.
While this particular case is especially complex because of the possible negligence on the part of the motorcyclist by crossing the median, it also highlights what happens when there are two or more possible defendants in a wrongful death or other personal injury case, such as this one, where two drivers contributed to the death of the motorcyclist.
Unlike the majority of the country, Florida is not a state that follows the common law doctrine of joint liability, which would have held all liable parties equally responsible for damages in a case where any of them were found to be partly responsible. In 2006, Florida changed how it handled cases with multiple defendants so that an award is more percentage based.
Under the system passed in 2006, if one driver is 40% at fault and another driver was 60% at fault in an accident and there is a $1,000,000 award, driver one would only be responsible for paying a judgment of $400,000 and driver two would be responsible for paying a $600,000 judgment. This differs from the old system entirely. This is called comparative negligence. Under the old system, and the one still followed in most states, Driver one would be responsible for the entire $1,000,000 judgment even though they were only 40% at fault of a judgment was not collectable against driver two for some reason such as bankruptcy or generally being judgment proof.
This can create a barrier for plaintiffs when it comes to collecting a judgment against multiple defendants in a case such as personal injury case. Let’s say in the example above, only driver one is able to pay his part of the judgment, he would only be responsible for his 40% of the judgment, no matter how high the judgment may be. If driver two cannot be collected against, the injured plaintiff is out of luck.
Like all personal injury cases, claims involving two or more defendants can be complex and require a lawyer’s assistance. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident where there are multiple defendants, contact the attorneys at the Brooks Law Group right away to schedule your free consultation. Make sure that you have a team working on your side to find all the responsible parties in your accident so that your rights are protected. If you wait, over time your case can be damaged by lost witnesses and evidence. Call the Brooks Law Group at 1-888-WE-MEAN-IT (888-936-3264) right away.