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Yes, special damages are joint and several.

In California, “damages” means any compensatory monetary recovery for loss. See Civil Code § 3281.

“Damages” means money for injury to your body or property (the loss).

There are different types of “damages” depending on the lawsuit. But generally, there are “special damages,” which is money for medical bills and lost wages, and “general damages,” which is money for pain and suffering.

“Joint damages” means holding multiple defendants responsible for the loss. Each defendant is responsible for the entire amount of damages.

Here’s an example. Your landlord hires an unlicensed contractor. That contractor negligently repairs stairs to your unit. You fall down those stairs and are injured. You have hospital bills and are in pain. Say your damages are $100,000, the total of $50,000 in hospital bills and $50,000 in pain and suffering.

“Several liability” means holding each defendant responsible for your damages to their share of your damages.

In California, “general damages” are subject to “several liability.” That means you can only collect money for your pain and suffering based on a defendant’s share of responsibility. If the contractor was 25% responsible, you could collect $12,500 from him (25% of $50,000 in pain and suffering).

“Special damages,” however, are joint and several under a law known as Proposition 51. That means you can collect your money for medical bills or lost wages from any defendant. And you can collect the entire amount. Even though the contractor was 25% at fault, you could collect the entire $50,000 in medical bills from him.

There’s a lot more to this discuss, and some strategy on how best to use it.

Questions?! Contact Me for a free consultation.

Evan Walker

Evan W. Walker is a La Jolla attorney who has practiced law since 2008. He has practiced law throughout California, Connecticut, and Louisiana.

Evan worked for and defended insurance companies during the first 7 years of his practice. Since 2015, he has represented people with personal injury and property damage claims and insurance disputes.

Evan’s practice is devoted to serious personal injury claims and catastrophic property damage claims. Areas of focus include security claims against bars and other businesses, government tort claims, fire and flood claims, and inverse condemnation. On behalf of clients, Evan has fought insurance firms, international companies, cities, bars, and casinos.

Evan regularly shares his expertise with other attorneys by teaching courses on insurance and inverse condemnation. He has taught several continuing legal education courses to Attorney Credits, a nationwide CLE company, and ProLawCLE, another nationwide CLE company. He also contributes to various podcasts and publications.


  • Member, State Bar of California
  • Member, San Diego Bar Association
  • Member, Consumer Attorneys of California
  • Member, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego
  • Member, La Jolla Bar Association
  • Member, La Jolla Village Merchants Association
  • Member, San Diego Chamber of Commerce