Letting Good Deeds Go Unpunished: Volunteer Immunity Laws and Tort Deterrence
Jill R. Horwitz
UCLA School of Law; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Cleveland State University
June, 24 2008
U of Michigan Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 08-009
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 2008
Does tort law deter risky behavior in individuals? We explore this question by examining the relationship between tort immunity and volunteering. During the 1980s and 1990s, nearly every state provided some degree of volunteer immunity. Congress followed with the 1997 Volunteer Protection Act. This article analyzes these acts, identifying three motivations for them: the chilling effects of tort liability, limits on liability insurance, and moral concerns. Using data from the Independent Survey's Giving and Volunteering surveys, we then identify a large and positive correlation between immunity and volunteering. We next consider the implications of the findings for tort theory and nonprofit law.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 43
Keywords: Volunteer Protection Act, volunteer immunity, tort deterrence
JEL Classification: K00, K13, K40
Date posted: June 27, 2008
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