Empirical Analysis of Tort Damages

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

55 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2012 Last revised: 27 Nov 2012

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

Date Written: January 11, 2012

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Tort, damages, pain and suffering, hedonic damages, value of statistical life

JEL Classification: K13, K41, J17, K00

Suggested Citation

Viscusi, W. Kip, Empirical Analysis of Tort Damages (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. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1983552

W. Kip Viscusi (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States
615-343-7715 (Phone)
615-322-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Vanderbilt University - Department of Economics

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States
(615) 343-7715 (Phone)
(615) 343-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management

401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States
(615) 343-7715 (Phone)
(615) 343-5953 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.vanderbilt.edu/faculty/viscusi.htm

Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

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