joint and several liability

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Related to joint and several liability: Jointly and severally

Joint and Several Liability

A designation of liability by which members of a group are either individually or mutually responsible to a party in whose favor a judgment has been awarded.

Joint and several liability is a form of liability that is used in civil cases where two or more people are found liable for damages. The winning plaintiff in such a case may collect the entire judgment from any one of the parties, or from any and all of the parties in various amounts until the judgment is paid in full. In other words, if any of the defendants do not have enough money or assets to pay an equal share of the award, the other defendants must make up the difference.

Defendants in a civil suit can be held jointly and severally liable only if their concurrent acts brought about the harm to the plaintiff. The acts of the defendants do not have to be simultaneous: they must simply contribute to the same event. For example, assume that an electrician negligently installs an electrical line. Years later, another electrician inspects the line and approves it. When the plaintiff is subsequently injured by a short circuit in the line, the plaintiff may sue both electricians and hold them jointly and severally liable.

Joint and several liability can also arise where a Husband and Wife or members of an organization owe the government income taxes. In such cases, the revenue agency may collect on the debt from any and all of the debtors. In a contractual situation, where two or more persons are responsible for the same performance and default on their obligations, a nondefaulting party may hold any and all parties liable for damages resulting from the breach of performance.

A small number of states do not strictly follow the doctrine of joint and several liability. In such jurisdictions, called comparative Negligence jurisdictions, liability is prorated according to the percentage of the total damages attributable to each defendant's conduct.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

joint and several liability

liability where a person can be sued jointly with others or individually for the whole sum, leaving it to the person sued to recover from the others with whom he is jointly liable. For example, every partner is jointly liable with his co-partners and also severally liable for everything for which the firm becomes liable while he is a partner.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
The essence of joint and several liability is that the plaintiff
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Joint and several liability ensures that victims recover fully for their injuries and are not victimized further by the legal system.
If members of the Bar give local legislators an earful about this measure's unfairness, joint and several liability may be restored in the future.
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Arkansas raised standards for imposing damages, provided for modified repeal of joint and several liability provisions, and required a certificate of merit in medical malpractice cases demanding expert testimony.
The Act encompasses a myriad of issues relating to tort litigation, but its applicability can be divided into three major areas joint and several liability, damages, and medical malpractice.
'As the law of 'joint and several liability' stands at present audit firms also carry the liability of directors and perhaps others with greater responsibility than the auditors.
The compromise civil justice reform legislation includes provisions addressing punitive damages, venue, joint and several liability, and innocent sellers.
he income tax system of the United States is not marriage neutral: A married couple's tax burden has changed with the taxing system, as has the relief available to a spouse for joint and several liability. The relevant provisions in the IRC have been affected by legislation, court interpretations, and social pressure.
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