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Doing Away With Personal Injury Law: New Compensation Mechanisms for Victims, Consumers, and Business
by:Stephen D. Sugarman
Although personal injury law has been much criticized--by legal groups, insurers, health care providers, the business community, legislators, victims, and others--no concrete legal reforms have been enacted that would create a more equitable compensation system for accident victims of all sorts. In this volume, Sugarman offers both a penetrating critique...
Although personal injury law has been much criticized--by legal groups, insurers, health care providers, the business community, legislators, victims, and others--no concrete legal reforms have been enacted that would create a more equitable compensation system for accident victims of all sorts. In this volume, Sugarman offers both a penetrating critique of current personal injury law and a pioneering proposal for new compensation arrangements and new mechanisms for controlling unreasonably dangerous conduct. Sugarman argues persuasively that personal injury law as it is currently constructed generates more perverse behavior than desired safety, that it is an intolerably expensive and unfair system of compensating victims, and that in practice it fails to serve any commonsense notion of justice. His solution is the abolition of personal injury law and the institution of reforms based on social insurance and employee benefits.Sugarman begins by examining the justifications advanced in support of existing personal injury law, demonstrating that these goals are either unachieved or inefficiently pursued. He argues that current tort law discourages business innovation, undermines our health care system, diverts the time and attention of engineers, executives, and others from their main tasks, leaves many victims uncompensated while allowing others inappropriate punitive damages, artificially inflates insurance costs, and more. In the second section, Sugarman criticizes already proposed reforms, arguing that they do not go nearly far enough to address the serious short falls of the current system. Finally, Sugarman delineates his own three-part reform proposal: eliminate tort remedies for accidental injuries; build on existing social insurance and employee benefit plans to assure generous, yet fair compensation to all accident victims; and build on existing regulatory schemes to promote accident avoidance and to provide effective outlets for public complaints. Practicing attorneys, lobbyists, policymakers and business, consumer, and insurance leaders will find Doing Away with Personal Injury Law a provocative contribution to the continuing debate on the best means of reforming the victim compensation system.
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