Empirical Analysis of Tort Damages
W. Kip Viscusi
Vanderbilt University - Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Vanderbilt University - Department of Economics; Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management; Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics
January 11, 2012
RESEARCH HANDBOOK ON THE ECONOMICS OF TORTS, Jennifer Arlen, ed., Cheltenham, U.K.: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012
Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 12-01
Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 12-23
This article examines the procedures for determining damages in tort cases and assesses the empirical characteristics of these damages. Damages for economic loss involve noncontroversial economic concepts that seek to make the victim whole from a financial standpoint. Nevertheless, there is often substantial disagreement over issues such as the selection of the discount rate. Awards for noneconomic damages are more problematic, as the jury instructions are less precisely specified, and these are losses for which most people would not choose to purchase insurance. Such damages may constitute more than half of the total award, as in the case of medical malpractice. Awards for hedonic damages based on the value of statistical life are inappropriate measures for determining compensatory damages even when loss of enjoyment of life is a damages component. The article uses data by case type from the Civil Justice Survey of State Courts to provide assessments of total damages, noneconomic damages, and trends in damages from 1992 to 2005. The article also presents data on damages by type of personal injury.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 55
Keywords: Tort, damages, pain and suffering, hedonic damages, value of statistical life
JEL Classification: K13, K41, J17, K00Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: January 13, 2012 ; Last revised: November 27, 2012
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