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What is the New York “joint and several liability” law?

New York has a special “joint and several liability” law that drivers should be aware of, especially if you were involved in an accident. There are a few components to this rule that must be understood, including how many people were involved, how much in auto insurance each party possesses, and what percentage of fault can be assigned to each defendant.

In some cases, there may be multiple defendants in an auto accident lawsuit. If it can be determined that someone was at least partially responsible for the accident, they may be tried as a defendant and may be subject to paying damages after the return of the verdict.

Additionally, the amount of coverage each defendant has in their car insurance is a major component of joint and several liability. According to Hach & Rose attorney Michael Rose, many car owners only have $25,000 in car insurance. This may sound like a lot, but in the event of an accident, the damages owed to the plaintiff may far exceed that number. This is where the question of fault comes into play. If there are two defendants and one of them is 95% responsible while the other is only 5% responsible, but the latter is financially capable of paying the damages in full, then they are obligated by law to do so, and the defendant who is 95% responsible but not able to pay would not need to pay anything.

Though there is some controversy surrounding this law, New York is not the only state that has one. Twenty-eight other states also recognize it, including New Jersey, Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

Contact a New York car accident lawyer

If you have been injured in a car accident, regardless of whether you had any fault in it, the personal injury attorneys at Hach & Rose, LLP are ready to help you. We understand the complexities of the joint and several liability rule and will work with you to win the compensation you deserve. Call our office at (347) 318-9604 or reach out online to discuss your legal options today.


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