Midwestern States Joint and Several Liability Laws

Below is a table summarizing the various forms of joint and several liability laws of the 12 Midwest Governors Association states.

In 1995, the Wisconsin Legislature modified its contributory negligence law. Under current law, a defendant is jointly and severally liable only if he or she is 51% or more at fault.  Prior to 1995, Wisconsin had a pure form of joint and several liability where a defendant as little as 1% at fault could have been responsible for all of the plaintiff’s damages.

As noted in the table, many of the Midwestern states recently enacted reforms to their joint and several liability laws. Wisconsin would be the first state to undo its reforms by putting back into place pure joint and several liability.

State Law Exception(s) Authority
Illinois Joint and Several Liability Bars application of the rule of joint and several liability in the recovery of noneconomic damages from defendants found to be 25% or less at fault (except in auto, product or environmental cases).*Passed legislation in 1995 baring the application of joint and several liability in the recovery of all damages, which was struck down as unconstitutional by Illinois State Supreme Court. 735 ILCS 5/1117
Indiana Several Liability. In states with several liability laws, the defendant is only liable for his or her percentage of fault. Burns Ind. Code Ann. §34-51-2-8
Iowa Several Liability Defendant found 50% or more at fault is jointly and severally liable for economic damages, but not for noneconomic damages. Reformed law in 1997. Iowa Code §668.4
Kansas Several Liability Defendants for intentional torts are jointly and severally liable. Sieben v. Sieben, 231 K. 372, 378, 346 P.2d 1036 (1982). K.S.A. §60-258a
Michigan Several Liability If, in a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff is found without fault, then the liability of each defendant is joint and several liability. Reformed law in 1997. Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. §§600.2957 and 600.6304.
Minnesota Modified Joint and Several Liability Defendant found 51% or more at fault is jointly and severally liable for economic damages. Defendant’s liability, who is less than 51% at fault, is limited to the percentage of negligence attributable to that person. If one liable party is uncollectible, the court will, on a motion made within a year of judgment, reallocate his/her share to other parties. Reformed law in 2003. Minn. Stat. Ann. §604.02
Missouri Modified Joint and Several Liability Defendant found 50% or more at fault is jointly and severally liable for economic damages. Defendant’s liability, who is less than 1% at fault, is limited to the percentage of negligence attributable to that person. Reformed law in 2005. Mo. Ann. Stat. §537.067
Nebraska Modified Joint and Several Liability Reform replaced law with a 50/50 rule in which the plaintiff wins if the plaintiff’s responsiblility is less than the responsibility of all the defendants. Bars application of the rule of joint and several liability in the recovery of noneconomic damages. Reformed law in 1991. R.R.S. Neb. §25-21,185.10
North Dakota Several Liability Joint and several liability applies to any persons who act in concert in committing the tortious act, or aid or encourage the act, or ratify or adopt the act. Reformed law in 1987. N.D. Cent. Code §32-03.2
Ohio Modified Joint and Several Liability Bars application of the rule joint and several liability in the recovery of all damages from defendants found to be less than 50% at fault unless the defendant committed an intentional tort. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. §2315.33
South Dakota Modified Joint and Several Liability Any party less than 50% at fault may not be jointly liable for more than twice the percentage of his or her allocated fault. Reformed law in 1987. S.D. Codified Laws Ann. §15-8-15.1
Wisconsin Modified Joint and Several Liability Defendant found 51% or more at fault is jointly and severally liable for economic damages. Defendant’s liability, which is less than 51% at fault, is limited to the percentage of negligence attributable to that person.*Reformed law in 1995. Assembly Bill 75 (Budget Bill Provision) *Proposed legislation would amend the law to expand joint and several liability.Under the proposal, any defendant whose negligence is equal to or greater than the plaintiff is jointly and severally liable. This means a plaintiff as little as 1% at fault can be forced to pay 100% of the damages. Wis. Stat. §895.045