Avoiding Apportionment of Fault to Nonparties in Georgia Trucking Cases

March 11, 2013


Georgia abolished joint and several liability in the latest wave of “tort reform” in 2005. Juries are allowed to apportion fault among defendants and non-parties in all tort cases. A defendant is allowed to give “notice not later than 120 days prior to the date of trial that a nonparty was wholly or partially at fault.” This can occur after the statute of limitations has run, and after discovery has closed in the case. There is no procedure for adding a non-party to the case after the statute of limitations has expired. It is very important to file suit early in serious injury cases and to aggressively pursue discovery to identify any non-parties who might be blamed by named defendants before it is too late to add them to the lawsuit.

Potential defendants to consider in trucking cases include:

1. Motor carrier
2. Affiliated or related companies of the motor carrier
3. Truck driver
4. Insurance company (where direct actions are permitted)
5. Owner of tractor
6. Owner of trailer
7. Owner/operator
8. Lessors
9. Lessees
10. Drivers of other vehicles involved in wreck,
11. Phantom vehicles and their drivers,
12. Freight broker
13. Freight forwarder
14. Shipper, consignor, or consignee
15. Whoever loaded the trailer
16. Produce broker
17. Timber broker
18. Timber owner
19. Lumber yard, saw mill, etc.
20. Paper mill
21. Mechanic, garage, shop performing service or repair
22. Equipment failures due to product defect
23. Governmental entities for road defects, failure to maintain, improper design, etc.
24. Road construction companies where wreck occurs in or near a construction zone


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