In a Florida personal injury lawsuit sometimes there are two or more parties who may be listed as defendants. Usually this happens when the plaintiff asserts that two or more parties’ wrongful conduct has caused the plaintiff injuries. How much liability each tortfeasor could be held responsible for will need to be determined by the fact finder since there are various rules that govern actions against multiple defendants. At common law, when two or more persons acted in concert it was said that the two were joint tortfeasors for causing the plaintiff’s injuries. However, if two or more persons, not acting an agreement, but causes the plaintiff to suffer a harm, then the injury was classified as an indivisible injury. For example, if two motorists acting independently of one another crashes into another vehicle causing the plaintiff to sustain a personal injury, the plaintiff could still sue both by bringing a personal action against each party. In short, to clarify, joint tortfeasors at common law could occur as a result of two people who acted an agreement to cause plaintiff to become injured, or acted independently but cause the plaintiff to suffer an indivisible injury. The legal effect was that each defendant, at common law, was considered joint tortfearsors and the plaintiff could sue any one of the responsible parties to recover damages for the harm she sustained.
Joint and severally liability could be an issue in a Florida motor vehicle crash which killed three people in December 2010. According to the Sun Sentinel, the Florida Highway Patrol department has issued non-criminal citations against two men whom witnesses claim “were staging to stage for a drag racing competition”. Although neither Angel Lazo nor Raymon Garcia are facing criminal charges, traffic citations were issued and reports of the state patrol’s office conclude that racing-related activities were involved in the accident. As to what exactly happened is not clear because according to Lazo’s lawyer as being reported by the Sun Sentinel, Lazo was having car trouble while traveling on U.S. 27 and instructed Garcia to follow behind him. Also, Garcia’s mother says that her son suffered a brain injury and has no recollection of the wreck.
Moreover, Lazo lawyers and family members of the passengers killed have pointed to a driver of a semitrailer. According to the official report of the FHP, on or about December 9, 2010 at approximately 12:30 a.m., the truck driver traveled south on U.S. 27 when he saw an Integra and Honda Civic make U-turns from the southbound to the northbound lanes of the highway. As he traveled northbound in the right-hand land, an unknown vehicle made a sudden lane change from behind his vehicle and into the left northbound lane. Apparently, the lights on the unknown vehicle was such that it blinded the truck driver who was unable to see that the Lazo and Garcia vehicles were at a standstill in the highway, and he attempted to break, but could not, and he was not able to swerve in either direction because of the several cars parked on the highway. He crashed into the Garcia vehicle and all three passengers in the vehicle died. Additionally, witnesses say that there were about 15 cars parked on the side to view the alleged car race. Lazo, according to his lawyer, suffered a skull fracture.
Nonetheless, the FHP cleared the truck driver of any wrongdoing. More so, under Florida law, if the descendants’ family members were to hire a Fort Lauderdale accident attorney to file a lawsuit on their behalf against Lazo and Garcia under a negligence theory, naming each as joint tortfeasors, and the fact finder determines that the plaintiffs were not at fault, they could be entitle to recover full economic damages as the court determines. Economic damages are those damages which can be quantified such as the loss of wages and medical expenses. Also, despite some states having abolished the joint tortfeasor rule, Florida has amended this common law rule by placing caps on economic damages recovery. In short, if it is shown that a plaintiff has comparative fault (the jury or fact finder finds that the plaintiff’s actions help created the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries), then the defendants would be responsible for the amount of damage based upon the apportioned fault.
Our Fort Lauderdale motor vehicle accident lawyers can give you the advice you need if your loved was killed as a result of two or more responsible parties, or you were injured in an accident from the negligence of more than one responsible party. When there are multiple defendants who could be named as defendants in a lawsuit, you will need the representation of a lawyer. You should contact an attorney immediately after an accident because if you delay filing a lawsuit for too long, you could lose your right to bring an action in court against the wrongdoer.
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