joint and several

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Where two or more defendants acting in concert injure the plaintiff or when two or more defendants acting independently injure the plaintiff and the resulting damage cannot be allocated to a particular defendant all of the defendants are liable for entirety of plaintiff’s injury as well as the entire amount of  judgment. So, each defendant is severally and fully responsible for the harm, even though all defendants are jointly responsible for it.

For example,  if a party injured in an accident sues several parties for causing damages, the court may find that several people were jointly negligent. The entire judgment may then be collected from any of the defendants found responsible, unless the court finds that different amounts of negligence of each defendant contributed to the injury.

Joint and several liability is also available in jurisdictions that adopted comparative negligence system. Defendant that had to pay damages to the plaintiff in the amount greater than the percentage he was found responsible for may obtain contribution for the pro rata shares of other defendants.

[Last updated in June of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]