Interviewer: I’ve been in an accident where multiple parties were at fault. Can I choose whom to sue, or do I need to sue all of them?
Reuben J. Donig, Esq.: You don’t need to sue all of them. You can make the choice, but there are going to be repercussions with that choice. So, let’s put a spin on that question that really makes sense. Let’s say you’re driving in a… You’re a passenger in a car that your girlfriend is driving, and she’s involved in an accident with another motorist, and she’s partly at fault, and the other motorist is at fault, and you’ve been injured. And maybe you don’t want to sue your girlfriend. Okay? You only want to sue the other party.
Yes, you can make that choice, but understand that since there is comparative liability on your girlfriend’s part, you’re not going to be fully compensated by the other side, or the other side’s insurance company. They may owe you 100% of your economic damages, but they only owe you a proportional amount of your non-economic damages.
And also consider this, that even though you haven’t sued your girlfriend in that case, it’s most likely that the other side is going to file a cross complaint for indemnity and contribution against your girlfriend so that she does end up paying her proportionate share of your damages one way or the other.
(Attorney Reuben Donig specializes in personal injury law and premises liability, including auto and car accidents in San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Alameda County and San Francisco County. Visit him at www.doniglaw.com if you have a question you’d like to ask).