By Karen Koehler
Before 1986, Washington had unrestricted ”joint and several liability.” This meant if two or more defendants caused the injury, they were each on the hook for paying the total loss (but there was never double recovery).
After tort reform was enacted that year, the rule changed drastically. Now there is no joint and several liability unless an injured person is 100% innocent – unless they are zero percent at fault. The reason the legislature kept this exception is because our society does not want a completely innocent person to have to bear the financial hardships of being injured due to someone else’s fault.
In an editorial to the Times, Rob McKenna Attorney General makes it seem like this exception is the norm:
“Perhaps most outrageous, current law requires that — even in situations where a court finds the state only 1 percent at fault for an injury — it can hold the state 100 percent responsible for monetary damages.”
The only thing outrageous about this quote, is that a high elected official is skewing what the law really says.