Plaintiffs and defendants are the main actors in personal injury cases. The plaintiff is the injury victim, while the defendant is liable for the damages. Below is an overview of the defendants.
Identify the Defendants
You must identify the right defendants for your case. These parties are responsible for your injuries. They are the only ones the court can compel to compensate your damages. Potential defendants include:
- The owners of the things that caused your injuries, such as building owners, car owners, or dog owners
- The operators of the equipment, such as vehicles that caused your injuries
- The perpetrators of the events or actions that caused your injuries
- The managers or parties in charge of the events, such as car races that caused your injuries
Talk to a personal injury lawyer to help you identify the defendants.
Understand Permissive vs. Necessary Defendants
A personal injury case can have multiple defendants. The law places the defendants into two main categories – necessary and permissive. Below is an overview of these two categories of defendants.
Necessary defendants are those that you must include in your case. A necessary defendant is any party the court needs to rule on your case. The absence of a necessary defendant can lead to controversial and biased decisions, which sets the stage for mistrial or appeals.
Consider a case where you are the victim of an auto accident by a student driver, and the student driver and their instructor are trading blame games. You should include the instructor and their student in your compensation claim. The court will struggle to rule on your case if you leave the driver or their instructor out of it.
Permissive defendants are those whom the court does not need to rule on your case but can help the case in some way. Permissive defendants connect to the case somehow, even if they are not directly responsible for the damages. Your case can continue without a permissive defendant, but the case is better with the defendant in play.
Consider a case where you suffer burn injuries from a defective water heater in a rental house. You blame the property owner for your damages, but you also suspect that the contractor who regularly services the heater should have foreseen and prevented the injury.
In this case, the court can proceed with your claim against the property owner without the contractor. However, involving the contractor as a permissive defendant can help your case. The contractor can shade more light on the condition of the water heater. For example, the contractor may explain advice they may have given to the property owner about the water heater.
For more information, contact a personal injury attorney near you.