Torts Outline

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TORTS – Fall 2006
“G” = something that Goldwasser said in class

01. INTRODUCTION TO TORT LAW (p.2)
• set of rules regarding liability and compensation for personal injury, death, and property damage that one party causes to another - rules for shifting losses from injured victims to the persons and companies causing injuries • grew out of a focus on bodily injury and physical property damage - now extended to include harm to reputation, privacy, emotional well-being, and economic losses • includes legislative measures related to torts and alternatives to tort liability

02. ACCIDENTS IN THE US (p.4)
A. Introduction
a. 2003 - accidents were responsible for 101,500 deaths, 21 million disabling injuries, and 40 million hospital emergency room visits - 5th highest cause of death - economic consequences approx. $608 billion - in 2004 approx 16% of the population did not have private insurance - less than 50% are covered by disability insurance providing wage loss protection b. tort recovery - 1) if no one was at fault, there typically will be no recovery at all 2) the expenses of tort litigation are very steep (indirectly the courts' expenses are high also) B. Accidental Deaths

a. principal causes = motor vehicles (close to half), poison, falls, drowning, fires b. downward trend in accidental deaths since 1900 - lowest was in 1992 - 12/hour die c. ratio of traffic deaths to miles driven is 1.56 for every 100 million miles d. deaths in homes downward trend since 1912 but up since 1987 e. considerable reduction in workplace deaths

C. Accidental Injuries
a. serious accidents at home are four times more likely than in car b. seat belts reduce chance of death or injury by 50% D. Accident Costs
a. 2003 - $608 billion in lost wages, medical expenses, and property damages b. 2003 - lost quality of life valued at more than $1,350 billion (calculated from empirical studies based on what people pay to reduce safety and health risks) E. Tort Claims and Damage Awards

a. tort reform is very popular at the moment - the perception is that torts cases are out of hand - scholars agree the system has weaknesses – HOWEVER i. state court filings are down 4% since 1993 and only comprise a total of 10% of all civil filings - plaintiffs win 49% - jury trials are rare and only happen in about 3% of all tort case dispositions - the median personal injury award is about $50,000 - 85% are below the mean of $455,000 - med malpractice & product liability are higher because more serious injuries - awards over $1 million constitute only 3% of all awards - punitives are rare

03. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF TORT LAW (p.11)
A. Criminal law and tort law cover much the same ground, in the beginning shared the same scope - law satisfied public & private need for vengeance and to avoid citizens taking the law into their own hands - deterrence of wrongful conduct also came to be an important objective a. tort liability was a legal device to dissuade a victim from retaliation by offering monetary compensation - torts were closely related to threats of public disorder/breaches of the peace b. the first date more than 3500 years ago and required compensation for certain intentional wrongdoing as well as some careless misconduct B. Royal Courts in England established after Norman conquest of England in 1066 a. Roman Law - highly sophisticated - included rules on fault and intentional wrongdoing b. England –

i. writ of trespass - related to direct & immediate aggression against a person or against the personal and real property of an individual ii. writ of trespass on the case = indirect injury c. unintentional accidents/harms - became much more common after 1800 when the country became much more industrialized - common law courts developed accident...
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