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Letting Good Deeds Go Unpunished: Volunteer Immunity Laws and Tort Deterrence

43 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2008  

Jill R. Horwitz

UCLA School of Law; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Joseph Mead

Cleveland State University

Date Written: June, 24 2008

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Volunteer Protection Act, volunteer immunity, tort deterrence

JEL Classification: K00, K13, K40

Suggested Citation

Horwitz, Jill R. and Mead, Joseph, Letting Good Deeds Go Unpunished: Volunteer Immunity Laws and Tort Deterrence (June, 24 2008). U of Michigan Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 08-009; Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1150835

Jill R. Horwitz (Contact Author)

UCLA School of Law ( email )

Box 951476
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States
310-206-1577 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Joseph Mead

Cleveland State University ( email )

Cleveland, OH 44115
United States

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