Can Car Accident Victims Sue Multiple Defendants?
As Macon car accident attorneys, we regularly assist people who have been injured in accidents as the result of more than one party’s negligence. Georgia is what’s known as a modified comparative negligence state, which means that fault for any given accident can be apportioned between the responsible defendants, and even the injured plaintiff, if they played any role in being partially responsible for the accident or their injuries.
However, there are circumstances whereby these cases can become more complicated; for example, if a severe accident occurs due to a truck driver falling asleep at the wheel of a semi trailer, but the injured plaintiff isn’t just injured due to this one act, but also due to negligence of the state for failing to put in place the right safeguards to ensure motor safety on the roads and highways. What happens if the injured plaintiff recovers from the trucking company? Are they then barred from also filing a negligence suit against the state, due to collateral estoppel, which prevents someone from relitigating an issue?
Depending upon the circumstances of the particular case, there are a number of ways to ensure that this second lawsuit moves forward; for example, by arguing that:
- There is new information that was not available during the first lawsuit
- That the defense of collateral estoppel cannot apply when the plaintiff prevails in their first complaint
- That the standard for collateral estoppel is not whether claims raised in the second lawsuit could have been litigated in the first lawsuit, but rather whether they actually were litigated and determined
Assigning Percentage Fault
Where these types of cases can become complicated is in instances where a certain percentage of fault was allocated in the first lawsuit; for example, if 100% of fault was assigned to the trucking company by the jury, and damages were assigned based on that culpability, this can sometimes make it more difficult to make the case that additional culpability should also be assigned to additional parties. However, this is where it would be key to argue that there have been additional facts and information discovered since that initial litigation which bring to light additional injuries, as well as new witnesses discovered and/or other circumstances; all of which was not presented to the factfinder in the initial lawsuit.
Attorneys can also argue that the injured plaintiff should not be the one penalized by decisions made early on in litigation, but rather, it is arguably the duty of the initial defendant to also identify contributing factors and parties involved in the accident. Often in these cases, subsequent litigation does not result in double recovery for the plaintiff, but rather a credit to the defendant who paid damages based on the first trial.
Contact Our Macon, Georgia Car Accident Attorneys
If you have any questions about a car accident that you or a loved one suffered in, contact our Macon Georgia car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Buzzell, Welsh & Hill today to find out how we can be of assistance.