Compensation for Victims of Terrorism
Marshall S. Shapo
Northwestern University School of Law
COMPENSATION FOR VICTIMS OF TERRORISM, Oceana Publications, Inc., 2005
This book places the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund in the context of the "jurisprudence of injury." It weaves together the practical politics that produced the Fund, historical comparisons, the background of tort and compensation law, economic analysis, and behavioral data on the responses of citizens generally as well as the victim community.
The book describes the legislation that set up the Fund and the Rules under which the Fund operated. It notes how Congress presented survivors the alternatives of the Fund, which most of them elected, and of suing private defendants in tort. It explores the parallels and contrasts between the Fund legislation and tort law, focusing significantly on Congress' decision to tie the levels of Fund compensation roughly to earnings. The book also analyzes the decision to give recovery for noneconomic losses and the presumed dollar figures for such losses, the rule requiring deduction of collateral sources, and the limitation on the liability of air carriers when survivors elected to sue in tort.
The book employs studies of public attitudes to various features of the Fund. It explores the tangled group of policy goals in the background of the Fund in the context of the question of whether to compensate victims of terrorism generally as well as the question of whether the Fund was an appropriate response. One theme running through the book is that of comparative statistics on fatalities from accidents and medical injuries, as well as deaths and wars.
Among various specific proposals, the book suggests that Congress provide "foundational funding" for victims of terrorism, with a preference for equal payments to all recipients that blend noneconomic loss with economic loss.
Keywords: compensation, victims, terrorism, torts, september 11th, VCF, accident, misfortune, philosophy, economic theory, community reactionsAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: June 23, 2005
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