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01/10/2014
RD- an actual child support client
"My case was handled quickly and with ease."
01/10/2014
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Subsequent & Concurrent Injuries

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Personal Injury

During our years in practice, the Gainesville Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. have come to know that rarely does one personal injury case precisely mirror another. The variations in factual circumstances and legal issues involved are endless. In some cases, multiple persons can contribute to a victim’s injuries, whether concurrent with, or subsequent to, an accident.  Matters involving subsequent and concurrent injuries vary greatly from typical injury actions, in which a victim is harmed solely as a result of the actions of a single tortfeasor. Causation, in particular, is the primary distinction between single-tortfeasor cases, and those in which two or more individuals may potentially be held liable for a person’s injuries.

In understanding how causation varies in these types of cases, it is first helpful to know precisely what concurrent and subsequent injuries are. As set forth in McLeod v. American Motors Corporation, 723 F2d 830 (11th Cir. 1984):

“The typical concurrent causation case involves two defendants whose acts occur at or about the same time and together produce plaintiff’s injury. […]The typical successive causation case, on the other hand, involves two or more defendants whose acts occur at distinct times and together produce plaintiff’s total injuries.”

The distinction between concurrent and subsequent injuries is important in terms of causation, because in most cases, it will also control the extent to which each defendant can be held liable. As stated in McLeod, citing De La Concha v. Pinero, 104 So.2d 25, 28 (Fla.1958):

“in [concurrent injury cases], Florida law clearly makes each of the defendants jointly and severally liable for the full amount of plaintiff’s damages.”

While in ‘subsequent,’ also referred to as ‘successive’ injury cases, McLeod points out that:

“the jury should be allowed to apportion damages between the defendants; however, if damages are not reasonably apportionable, plaintiff may recover the full amount from either of the two defendants. Washewich v. LaFave, 248 So.2d 670, 672 (Fla.App.1971); Wise v. Carter, 119 So.2d 40 (Fla.App.1960).

Where these cases can become more complex, is in determining whether the specific injury-producing event, under the law, is more appropriately classified as concurrent, or as subsequent/ successive. Although deciphering between the two may seem fairly straightforward, it is not always as simple as one may think.

For example, consider a low-impact collision in which the victim was NOT seriously injured, but as a result of the crash, the airbags deployed, and the victim sustained serious injuries. To most, this injury may seem to be concurrent in nature, however, according to prior case law, this injury is actually successive. The same holds true for an airbag, which due to a defect, failed to deploy. In both cases, the airbag deployment, or lack thereof, will generally be considered a subsequent event, much like injury-enhancement caused due to medical malpractice.

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It is important to note that the law regarding concurrent and successive injuries is far from decisive—not only with regard to automobile collisions, but in many other personal injury matters as well. Inconsistencies in prior ruling, misinterpretations of the law, general lack of clarification, have made concurrent and successive injury cases a highly debated topic in Florida—often leaving the attorneys representing these victims ample room to argue regarding apportionment of fault, jury instruction, and other evidentiary issues.

Similar to wrongful death actions or claims against the government, cases involving concurrent and subsequent injury causation often involve highly complex legal issues, and generally require the knowledge that can only come from an experienced legal professional. During our decades in practice, the attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. have obtained favorable results on behalf of numerous clients in personal injury actions, many in which the victim’s financial recovery was centered upon special issues of injury causation. Let us do the same for you.