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A General Overview of Indemnity Agreements

One of the core principles of tort law involves holding parties accountable for any damage they cause. California has adopted legislation that reduces some of this law to contractual to “indemnification”. Civil Code Section 2772, describes that indemnity is outlined as a contract established by one party (indemnitor) to protect another (indemnitee) from the outcome of the acts or omissions of one the parties involved (or a potential third party).

Upon filing a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff will may seek compensation from several different responsible sources to collect damages. The essence of an indemnity agreement is to shift the financial liability for damages from one responsible party to the other.

Different Types of Indemnity
An indemnity clause or agreement can take multiple forms. Indemnity claims can be based on the principle of fairness, on an implied agreement, or stated as a clause in a contract. Each of these forms is different. For more information with regard to your specific case, seek the legal advice of a knowledgeable attorney. A proficient attorney with the right background will help you understand the legal aspects of indemnity and how the different types can interrelate and, importantly, how they will have bearing on your case or claim.

Comparative Equitable Indemnity
Under these principles, every party will compensate the claimant in shares. These proportionate shares could be based on the percentage of responsibility each liable party holds. Depending on the case, the courts or a jury could determine the responsibility of each party.
In a general scope, the defining factor of an equitable indemnity claim involves the existence of two or more parties liable in damages to the claimant. In retrospect, these parties each owe damages to the claimant. This does not require a contract.

Implied Contractual Indemnity
Implied contractual indemnity does not rely upon an agreement to enter into a duty of indemnity. In simple terms, this doctrine is centered on the premise that one party’s lack of performance, under contractual duties, will cause indebtedness to the other party on grounds of fairness.

Express Contractual Indemnity
Express contractual indemnity requires the expression of terms in a valid and enforceable contract. This is usually bound by traditional principles found in contract law, where each individual party is responsible to uphold the obligations agreed upon.

A clause could read as follows:

Party X hereby agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Party Y from and against all claims, actions, obligations, losses, and liabilities suffered, or that may be suffered, as a result of Party X’s negligence.
As a result of a lawsuit, a court may assign liability based on the strict terms of a contract, clause, or
provision. These terms may generally override other obligations found under other indemnity theories.

Obtain Legal Representation
The State of California, from time to time, has modified the statutes that outline general rules for the interpretation of indemnity. It is vital to seek the legal representation of an experienced attorney to assist with the implications of indemnity and/or an indemnity clause. An experienced attorney will understand how current laws and regulations impact an indemnity agreement in your individual case. And this should not take place only after an accident. Protecting one’s interests in entering into relationships, obligations, and contracts/agreements is vital to the financial health and protection of entities and people entering relationships and responsibilities in activities that can result in injuries and/or death. The attorneys at Heiting & Irwin are experienced in the field of indemnity agreements within the scope of personal injury law. They are dedicated to assisting claimants understand the impact of indemnity and indemnity agreements.

Richard Irwin

Mr. Irwin is a recognized specialist in Workers’ Compensation law. He has been certified as a specialist by the State Bar of California since 1995. He limits his practice to handling only workers’ compensation cases. View Attorney Richard Irwin's Attorney Bio Here.

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