Apportionment of Liability Law and Legal Definition
Apportionment of liability is a tort law term used to refer to the parceling out of liability for an injury among multiple tortfeasors. The subdivision of liability may be based on the legal relationships between the plaintiff and the defendant/s, arising from the circumstances. In some cases, the liability may be apportioned to the plaintiff also.
Apportionment of liability encompasses legal doctrines such as joint and several liability, comparative responsibility, indemnity, and settlements.
The following is an example of a state statute (Connecticut) relating to the addition of person as defendant for apportionment of liability purposes:
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-102b. Addition of person as defendant for apportionment of liability purposes.
(a) A defendant in any civil action to which section 52-572h applies may serve a writ, summons and complaint upon a person not a party to the action who is or may be liable pursuant to said section for a proportionate share of the plaintiff's damages in which case the demand for relief shall seek an apportionment of liability. Any such writ, summons and complaint, hereinafter called the apportionment complaint, shall be served within one hundred twenty days of the return date specified in the plaintiff's original complaint. The defendant filing an apportionment complaint shall serve a copy of such apportionment complaint on all parties to the original action in accordance with the rules of practice of the Superior Court on or before the return date specified in the apportionment complaint. The person upon whom the apportionment complaint is served, hereinafter called the apportionment defendant, shall be a party for all purposes, including all purposes under section 52-572h.
(b) The apportionment complaint shall be equivalent in all respects to an original writ, summons and complaint, except that it shall include the docket number assigned to the original action and no new entry fee shall be imposed. The apportionment defendant shall have available to him all remedies available to an original defendant including the right to assert defenses, set-offs or counterclaims against any party. If the apportionment complaint is served within the time period specified in subsection (a) of this section, no statute of limitation or repose shall be a defense or bar to such claim for apportionment, except that, if the action against the defendant who instituted the apportionment complaint pursuant to subsection (a) of this section is subject to such a defense or bar, the apportionment defendant may plead such a defense or bar to any claim brought by the plaintiff directly against the apportionment defendant pursuant to subsection (d) of this section.
(c) No person who is immune from liability shall be made an apportionment defendant nor shall such person's liability be considered for apportionment purposes pursuant to section 52-572h. If a defendant claims that the negligence of any person, who was not made a party to the action, was a proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries or damage and the plaintiff has previously settled or released the plaintiff's claims against such person, then a defendant may cause such person's liability to be apportioned by filing a notice specifically identifying such person by name and last known address and the fact that the plaintiff's claims against such person have been settled or released. Such notice shall also set forth the factual basis of the defendant's claim that the negligence of such person was a proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries or damages. No such notice shall be required if such person with whom the plaintiff settled or whom the plaintiff released was previously a party to the action.
(d) Notwithstanding any applicable statute of limitation or repose, the plaintiff may, within sixty days of the return date of the apportionment complaint served pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, assert any claim against the apportionment defendant arising out of the transaction or occurrence that is the subject matter of the original complaint.
(e) When a counterclaim is asserted against a plaintiff, he may cause a person not a party to the action to be brought in as an apportionment defendant under circumstances which under this section would entitle a defendant to do so.
(f) This section shall be the exclusive means by which a defendant may add a person who is or may be liable pursuant to section 52-572h for a proportionate share of the plaintiff's damages as a party to the action.
(g) In no event shall any proportionate share of negligence determined pursuant to subsection (f) of section 52-572h attributable to an apportionment defendant against whom the plaintiff did not assert a claim be reallocated under subsection (g) of said section. Such proportionate share of negligence shall, however, be included in or added to the combined negligence of the person or persons against whom the plaintiff seeks recovery, including persons with whom the plaintiff settled or whom the plaintiff released under subsection (n) of section 52-572h, when comparing any negligence of the plaintiff to other parties and persons under subsection (b) of said section.