Without question, O.C.G.A. 51-12-13 as construed in McReynolds and Couch ushers in a new era in Georgia tort law. It topples the old regime in which multiple tortfeasors were held jointly liable when their combined acts of negligence injured an innocent plaintiff. The new regime is one of apportionment and liability limited to one's personal share of fault. Fault may be apportioned when it previously could not. It may be apportioned to those who are immune, to those who are unknown, and even to those who intentionally injure an innocent plaintiff. The practical consequence of this regime change is to place the risk of the uncollectible share upon the innocent plaintiff. Fewer innocent plaintiffs willb e fully compensated for their injuries, and liability incentives for defendants will be reduced. While important questions remain to be resolved, the big picture has emerged: apportionment, not joint liability, is the new norm.
Thomas A. Eaton,
Who Owes How Much? Developments in Apportionment and Joint and Several Liability Under O.C.G.A. § 51-12-33
, 64 Mercer L. Rev. 15
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/fac_artchop/1016