When two or more parties are jointly and severally liable for a tortious act, each party is independently liable for the full extent of the injuries stemming from the tortious act. Thus, if a [[wex:plaintiff]] wins a money judgment against the parties collectively, the [[wex:plaintiff]] may collect the full value of the judgment from any one of them. That party may then seek [[wex:contribution]] from the other wrong-doers.
For example suppose that A, B, and C [[wex:negligence|negligently]] injure V. V successfully sues A, B, and C, for $1,000,000. If the court used a joint and several liability system, V could demand that A pay V the full $1,000,000. A could them demand [[wex:contribution]] from B and C. However, if B or C could not pay, A would be stuck paying the full $1,000,000.
Joint and several liability reduces [[wex:plaintiff|plaintiffs']] risk that one or more [[wex:defendant|defendants]] are [[wex:judgment-proof]] by shifting that risk onto the other [[wex:defendant|defendants]]. Only if all [[wex:defendant|defendants]] are [[wex:judgment-proof]] will a [[wex:plaintiff|plaintiff]] be unable to recover anything. However, this system can cause inequities, particularly where a relatively blameless [[wex:defendant|defendant]] is forced to bear the financial burden of an incredibly guilty co-[[wex:defendant|defendant's]] insolvency.