New York City Personal Injury Lawyer Nicholas Papain Explains How New York CPLR Article 16 Modifies the Traditional Common Law Rule of Joint and Several Liability in Products Liability and Other Personal Injury Cases
New York does not follow the traditional law of joint and several liability. At common law, when a plaintiff-that is the injured party- sues multiple defendants, he or she can recover all of their damages from any of the defendants found to be at fault regardless of their individual share of liability. It is then the obligation of the defendant who has satisfied the judgment to seek contribution or indemnification from other parties found to be at fault, but only to the extent of their apportioned share of liability. The rationale for this rule is that it should not be the injured party’s responsibility to satisfy a judgment from multiple tortfeasors. However, in New York the common law rule was modified with the legislature’s enactment of CPLR Article 16, which provides that in certain personal injury cases where there is more than one tortfeasor (wrongdoer) that can be sued, a defendant whose fault is found to be 50% or less is only required to pay their equitable share of plaintiff’s non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering). Article 16 shields defendants with deep pockets from having to pay more than their share of non-economic damages in certain instances. However the common law rule remains in effect for economic damages such as loss of earnings or medical expenses or in wrongful death cases where recovery is limited to pecuniary loss.
Not all personal injury cases fall within the domain of CPLR Article 16 due to the rule’s numerous exceptions. Plaintiffs who have been involved in motor vehicle accidents or who have been the victim of any type of medical malpractice or have otherwise been injured should consult with an experienced New York personal injury attorney who will investigate whether the case falls within the rule’s coverage. It is important to have such an experienced personal injury lawyer because it is the plaintiff’s burden to demonstrate to the court why the case falls outside of the Article 16 limitations. If this is not properly addressed in your court pleadings you could lose your right to obtain full compensation for your injuries.
Nicholas Papain – New York City Personal Injury Attorney