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Rehabilitating Tort Compensation

Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 91, p. 659, 2003

37 Pages Posted: 12 May 2010 Last revised: 4 Aug 2010

Ellen S. Pryor

UNT Dallas College of Law

Date Written: 2003


What it means to fully compensate a plaintiff can depend on whether one approaches the question from an efficiency perspective, a corrective justice view, or some other normative stance. One formulation of “compensation” is prominent in theoretical work and in the day-to-day operation of the tort system: compensation is the payment of a sum of money that will restore the plaintiff to the status quo ante, to the extent money can do so. This paper argues that this view of compensation has several core failings that have been noticed too little by courts and scholars. In addition, a different concept of compensation – rehabilitation as compensation – should become a more dominant theme in tort practice and theory. This would help illuminate and address several key topics: (1) problems with tort law’s current definition of “medical and rehabilitative expenses”; (2) the role of the plaintiff in the rehabilitative process; (3) the responsibilities of the plaintiff’s lawyer with respect to rehabilitation, and (4) counter-rehabilitative features of tort not already emphasized in the tort literature.

Keywords: rehabilitation, tort, damages

JEL Classification: K13, K41

Suggested Citation

Pryor, Ellen S., Rehabilitating Tort Compensation (2003). Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 91, p. 659, 2003. Available at SSRN:

Ellen Pryor (Contact Author)

UNT Dallas College of Law ( email )

1901 Main Street
Dallas, TX 75201
United States
(214) 752-5959 (Phone)


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