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How Do New Hampshire Courts Divide Liability in Cases Involving Multiple Defendants?

July 5, 2019

Many New Hampshire personal injury cases involve multiple defendants. For example, chain-reaction car accident, injuries caused by dangerous or defective products, and even slip-and-fall accidents often result in an injury victim filing a claim against several different defendants. While the jury is ultimately responsible for apportioning liability between the parties, the court’s job is to make sure that the jury follows the rules when doing so. The New Hampshire Legislature provides guidance for divvying up liability in multi-defendant personal injury cases.

After a jury determines that there are multiple parties who are liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, the court will ask the jury to come up with the total amount of damages the plaintiff should receive for their injuries. Then, the court will instruct the jury to determine each defendants’ relative percentage of fault. The court will then apportion the damages among the defendants according to the jury’s breakdown of responsibility.

In many cases involving multiple defendants, each defendant is responsible only for their own share. However, under New Hampshire Revised Statutes section 507:7-e, if a defendant is found to be more than 50% at fault for the plaintiff’s injuries, that defendant will be held jointly and severally liable for the entire damages award. Thus, even if other defendants contributed to the accident, the defendant primarily responsible for the crash must cover their share if the other defendants are unable to pay. In addition, any party who knowingly caused harm to the plaintiff will be subject to joint-and-several liability, even if they were less than 50% at fault.

In some cases, the jury will determine that the plaintiff was partially at fault for the accident resulting in their injuries. In these situations, an injury victim can still recover for their injuries from others involved in the accident provided their “fault was not greater than the fault of the defendant, or the defendants in the aggregate if recovery is allowed against more than one defendant.” Simply stated, a plaintiff can recover as long as they were not more than 51% at fault. However, the court will ask the jury to determine the plaintiff’s percentage of fault, and the court will reduce the plaintiff’s damages award by that percent. For example, if a jury determined that a plaintiff suffered $300,000 in damages but was 30% at fault, the plaintiff’s reduced award would be $210,000.

Discuss Your Case with a Dedicated New Hampshire Injury Advocate

If you or a loved one was recently the victim of another’s negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation through a New Hampshire personal injury lawsuit. At the Concord law offices of Peter Thompson & Associates, we represent injury victims in all types of claims, including New Hampshire car accidents, slip-and-fall claims, and wrongful death cases. To speak with an attorney about your case, and to learn more about how our experienced team of knowledgeable personal injury lawyers can help you recover for your injuries, call 800-804-2004 to schedule a free consultation today. Calling is free, and you will not be billed unless we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.