Freedom, Responsibility and Risk: Fundamental Principles Supporting Tort Reform

48 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2005


The tort system, once designed solely to redress wrongs, now focuses more and more on criminal-style retribution and redistribution of wealth. This expansion in tort liability is both a cause and effect of the mind-set that any injury, damage or untoward turn of events in a person's life is the fault of another, for which a lawsuit should bring hefty monetary returns. In response, state and federal legislatures enact tort reform laws to balance the risks and benefits of the free enterprise system in a way that protects consumers and promotes a healthier economy. The article describes how tort reforms are premised on three important policies: (1) American society as a whole benefits when the freedom to innovate and make mistakes allows entrepreneurs to bring ever-better products to market; (2) people must accept responsibility for the consequences of their (potentially foolish) choices; and (3) individuals must be allowed to assess what the level of risk they are willing to assume.

Keywords: Tort reform, innovation, responsibility, risk, free enterprise

JEL Classification: K13

Suggested Citation

La Fetra, Deborah, Freedom, Responsibility and Risk: Fundamental Principles Supporting Tort Reform. Available at SSRN:

Deborah La Fetra (Contact Author)

Pacific Legal Foundation ( email )

8746 Amberleigh Drive
Knoxville, TN 37922
United States


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