An Alternative Explanation for No-Fault's 'Demise'
80 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2012
Date Written: 2012
In the space of one decade, automobile no-fault legislation — the second most ambitious alternative compensation scheme ever enacted in the United States — went from being widely viewed as “inevitable” to having, it is said, met its sad “demise.” Using a broad mix of primary source material, including voluminous congressional testimony and thousands of contemporaneous press and journal accounts, this Article excavates the history of the American no-fault experiment. With the benefit of this previously untapped material, the Article enriches — and in places, complicates — conventional explanations for why no-fault fizzled. It then situates the no-fault experience within a larger socio-legal framework and, in so doing, raises provocative questions about no-fault’s legacy. Then it finally, and more broadly, steps back to view the no-fault experiment not in isolation but as an exemplar of what may be a larger story about tort’s durability and the evolution, and ultimate convergence, of even very different legal regimes over time.
Keywords: tort, no-fault, insurance, auto insurance, alternative compensation mechanisms, auto accidents, policy window, adversarial equilibrium
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