I was injured in a slip-and-fall incident, but a week later, I was injured again in a car accident. What happens in that type of situation, where there are two different injuries, two different accidents, and two different defendants?
So let’s talk about two different possible scenarios. One is that in the first instance, you injure one part of the body. In the second, you injure a different part of the body. Let’s say you break your wrist when you slip and fell. If you hurt your back in a car accident, there’s not a whole lot of confusion and you can separate easily the liability issue on the slip-and-fall and the injury issue on the slip-and-fall from the back injury in the car accident. However, it might be that you have, let’s say, a back injury in the slip-and-fall, and then when you have a car accident sometime later, it re-injures or exacerbates the injury that you sustained the first time. In that case, you can anticipate that each of the defendants is going to claim that the primary injury was caused not by their wrong-doing, not by the slip-and-fall and not by the car accident, but by the other person’s wrongdoing.
In other words, the property owner where you slipped and fell is going to blame it on the car accident, and the driver in the car accident’s going to blame it on the slip-and-fall. Fortunately, under the Code of Civil Procedure, you are allowed, when there is a common issue of law or fact, to combine both claims into a single action. So that would prevent going to trial, for example, against a property owner and having a jury find that it’s from the car accident, then going to trial on the car accident and have a different jury blame it on the property owner. You can have one common hearing against both defendants saying, “Look, I injured my back on the slip-and-fall, I exacerbated it on the car accident, and I want the jury to figure out how much of my injury, how much of my damages are from the first, and how much of my injury and how much of my damages are from the second,” so long as they take the entire picture into account and give one, final, comprehensive award.