WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MULTIPLE PEOPLE OR COMPANIES COMBINE TO CAUSE YOUR INJURY?
Question: Can multiple people or companies combine to cause your injury and each be held responsible for your injuries?
Yes, Georgia law anticipates that there will be personal injuries caused by multiple people, and the law provides for what is called apportionment of the damages and liability amongst the responsible parties.
Where an action is brought against more than one person for injury to person or property, the trier of fact, in its determination of the total amount of damages to be awarded, if any, shall after a reduction of damages pursuant to subsection (a) of this Code section, if any, apportion its award of damages among the persons who are liable according to the percentage of fault of each person. Damages apportioned by the trier of fact as provided in this Code section shall be the liability of each person against whom they are awarded, shall not be a joint liability among the persons liable, and shall not be subject to any right of contribution.
(c) In assessing percentages of fault, the trier of fact shall consider the fault of all persons or entities who contributed to the alleged injury or damages, regardless of whether the person or entity was, or could have been, named as a party to the suit.
O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33.
WHY DO WE ALLOW MULTIPLE PEOPLE OR COMPANIES TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR INJURIES THAT WERE PRIMARILY CAUSED BY 1 PERSON OR COMPANY?
The purpose of the apportionment statute is to have the jury consider all of the tortfeasors who may be liable to the plaintiff together, so their respective responsibilities for the harm can be determined. After determination of any fault on the part of the plaintiff which might reduce the plaintiff’s reward, OCGA § 51–12–33(b) provides that
the trier of fact, in its determination of the total amount of damages to be awarded, if any, shall after a reduction of damages pursuant to subsection (a) of this Code section [reflecting a plaintiff’s responsibility], if any, apportion its award of damages among the persons who are liable according to the percentage of fault of each person.
Couch v. Red Roof Inns, Inc., 291 Ga. 359, 365, 729 S.E.2d 378, 383 (2012).
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