Understanding Joint and Several Liability in Virginia | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

If you were seriously injured in an accident that was caused by multiple parties, it is possible to take legal action against all the parties and recover the full amount of your damages from one, or all, of the named defendants. This legal principle is known as joint and several liability. All 50 states – including Virginia – follow some variation of this principle.

What Virginia Law Says

Virginia imposes joint and several liability on joint tortfeasors. According to Va. Code Ann. § 8.01-443, any joint tortfeasor against whom a judgment is entered is liable to the plaintiff for the entire judgment, regardless of the tortfeasor’s degree of fault. A common example is a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent employee and the company they work for. The employee may not have any significant financial resources to actual pay a jury award in your favor. However, under joint and several liability, if the company is also found liable, it can be held responsible for paying the full amount of a damage award.

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Specifics of Joint and Several Liability Depend on State Law

The type of joint and several liability that is available to you depends on where you reside. Many states follow “pure” versions of joint and several liability. Other states have a middle of the road approach while others have created hybrid laws in which joint and several liability applies only to some types of damages, such as economic damages. Virginia follows pure joint and several liability law. This means that all defendants have a right to contribution, or a responsibility to share the liability.  If you or a loved one is involved in a personal injury case involving multiple defendants, joint and several liability will likely come into play. This may affect settlement negotiations and influence whether it makes sense to go to trial. This is why it makes sense to hire an experienced and skilled personal injury lawyer in Norfolk, Va. Having the guidance of a lawyer will ensure you properly analyze your legal options and make the best decision going forward.