Joint and Several Liability in Maryland Personal Injury Cases

After a Maryland truck accident, the injured party may pursue a claim for compensation against all potentially responsible parties. Therefore, it is not uncommon that a jury will return a verdict against multiple parties. Under state law, the jury must assign a portion of fault to each of the defendants.

Once the jury has determined each party’s percentage of fault, the defendants will each be required to compensate the plaintiff accordingly. However, the issue frequently arises that one or more of the defendants do not have the resources to pay the plaintiff. This puts the plaintiff in the position of having secured a judgment that they cannot enforce. To solve this problem, Maryland lawmakers have enacted a joint-and-several liability framework that allows for a plaintiff to recover the total damages award from any of the responsible parties.

Joint and Several Liability

Under Maryland’s joint and several liability statute, each of the defendants who are determined to be responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries are responsible for the full amount of damages awarded. It is then up to a defendant who overpaid their share to seek contribution from the other defendants. This shifts the burden of collecting payment away from an innocent plaintiff and onto the defendants. Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case illustrating the concept of joint and several liability.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, several people were killed when a truck driver failed to stop as she approached traffic that had stopped on the highway. Family members of those killed in the accident filed a claim against several defendants, including two companies that had contacted for the truck driver’s services. The case went to trial, and the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs for nearly $24 million. The jury also determined that all named parties bore some responsibility for the accident.

The court engaged an in-depth discussion of how much each of the two companies owed the plaintiffs. However, that discussion is not important for the purposes of this discussion. Instead, what is important for potential plaintiffs to understand is that each of the defendants was required to compensate the plaintiff fully. If one defendant overpaid their share of the damages, it was then left to that defendant to seek contribution from the other defendant. In other words, the plaintiffs were not burdened with recovering their damages award piecemeal from several defendants. Instead, they are able to obtain the full judgment from any of the defendants who are able to pay it.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation from one or more parties. At the dedicated Maryland personal injury and wrongful death law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, we represent injury victims and their families in all types of personal injury claims brought in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule your free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland School Bus and Charter Bus Accidents, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published December 12, 2018.

Maryland Emergency Workers Face Constant Danger While Working on the Road’s Shoulder, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published November 27, 2018.

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