Opinion

Those at fault should pay in civil cases

An editorial from The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — The West Virginia House of Delegates took on tort reform during Tuesday’s legislative session by passing a bill that establishes a comparative fault standard and implements what is known as several liability.

Delegates voted 74-25 on a comparative fault bill, with some Democrats crossing party lines. The proposal is one of several being pushed by the GOP this session to change West Virginia’s legal system.

 The bill mandates that defendants are only responsible for their share of damages caused to a victim in cases of wrongdoing. The bill would require parties to pay the percentage they are deemed at fault by a jury, in most cases.

Prior to this legislation, in cases with multiple defendants, joint liability established that all defendants were responsible for paying damages. That means if one defendant filed for bankruptcy and could not pay, the other defendants in the claim would be required to take on the additional damages.

In other words, those with deep pockets were forced to pay a disproportionate share of the damages. This, of course, often meant that successful businesses were left footing the bill, even though their level of fault may have been ruled minor…

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