Shared Liability: Multiple Defendants Found Liable for Teen’s $360,000 ATV Accident Verdict

shared liability, Hartford personal injury attorneyWhen you or someone you love has been hurt in a car accident, slip-and-fall accident, or an accident involving recreational equipment, it is important to determine if the actions or negligence of another party contributed to your injuries. If someone else is found to have caused the accident and, therefore, your injuries, he or she may be held liable for the losses you have suffered, including both economic and noneconomic damages. But, what if more than one party shares the blame for the accident? How is each to be held liable for his or her contribution and what if one of those at fault is unable to pay? A recent ruling by a jury in Middletown Superior Court took these questions into consideration as it awarded a teen more than $360,000 from three defendants for injuries sustained in a 2012 ATV accident.

Weekend of Fun Turns Dangerous

According to reports, the incident occurred in May 2012, when a teen girl invited three friends to her parents’ ranch in North Branford, all of whom were 15 or 16 years old at the time. As part of the weekend’s fun, the teens went for a ride on a four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle, or ATV, owned by the girls’ parents. The rides went without a problem on Saturday night, but on Sunday morning, two of the boys took the ATV back out again. During the morning ride, the driver began turning tight circles, or “doing doughnuts,” and, due to its high center of gravity, the vehicle tipped over and landed on the teen passenger’s ankle. The teen suffered severe lacerations, soft tissue damage, and a torn ligament, which, along with complications in the healing process, led to approximately $100,000 in medical bills.

Shared Liability

Through his father, the injured teen filed suit against the teen driver, the teen host of the weekend, and her parents for negligent supervision. The girl who invited her friends over was eventually dropped as a defendant. Despite the parents’ claim that they maintained rules against anyone other than their daughter driving the ATV—a claim reportedly refuted by the teen driver’s own testimony—the jury found that they were, in fact, negligent in their supervision of the young people. In awarding more than $360,000 in damages, the jury assigned 40 percent of the liability to the teen driver, 40 percent to the host’s mother, and 20 percent to her father. The mother was found to have had increased responsibility for that particular weekend, as the father was not physically present, but the lack of consistent rules was found to be negligence on his part as well.

Unpaid Portions Could Be Reallocated

Joint liability is not presumed in Connecticut, meaning that, in most cases, a liable defendant can only be held responsible for the percentage of damages assigned to him or her. This is known as several liability. State law, however, does permit exceptions if, after good faith efforts, a claimant is unable to collect from a liable defendant. Based on the statute, the court could order each of the other defendants to pay a portion of the uncollected amount, up to each party’s determined percentage of negligence.

The attorney for the injured teen said he has filed a motion to allow the teen driver’s portion of the damages—approximately $144,000—to be reallocated between the other parties with shared liability. The disposition of that motion has yet to be announced.

Complex Injury Case? Call Now

If you have been injured in an accident that could involve more than one liable party, we are ready to help you decide on your best course of action. Contact an experienced Hartford personal injury attorney to schedule your free confidential consultation and learn more about your options under the law. Call [[phone1]] today for an appointment at Woolf Law Firm, LLC.

 

Sources:

http://www.ctlawtribune.com/id=1202752516580/Injured-Teen-Awarded-360000-After-ATV-Accident

http://www.uslaw.org/files/Compendiums2012/National/Connecticut_2012.pdf

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