Accidental Justice

The Dilemmas of Tort Law

Peter A. Bell and Jeffrey O´Connell

View Inside Price: $29.00


January 11, 1999
280 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
ISBN: 9780300078572
Paper

Also Available in:
Cloth

A woman suffers paralyzing injuries in a car accident but fails in court to prove the other driver's fault. She loses her case and is left bankrupt as well as maimed. An intoxicated man stumbles in the path of a subway train. He sues the local transit authority and wins a $9 million judgment. Real-life tort (or accident) cases like these inspire outrage against a system that seems frustratingly slow, inequitable, and expensive. In this even-handed and fascinating book, two leading tort experts explain to lay readers the strengths and weaknesses of our tort law system. Peter Bell and Jeffrey O'Connell demystify tort law and bring to life the process of tort litigation.

The roots of tort law lie in human suffering, maimed bodies, shattered spirits, and extinguished lives, say the authors. They discuss tort law's compensatory and deterrent functions; its delays, fortuity, and high transaction costs (mostly in lawyer's fees); and its role in discouraging harmful—as well as, on occasion, useful—activities. In a discussion of mass toxic tort cases, the authors investigate the ability of the courts to deal adequately with huge suits (related to breast implants or tobacco-related illnesses, for example) that involve massive numbers of claimants. Bell and O'Connell conclude with an objective review of such current reform enactments and proposals as no-fault insurance, caps on damages, and contingency fee reform.

Peter Alan Bell is professor of law at Syracuse University College of Law. Jeffrey O'Connell is Samuel H. McCoy Professor of Law and Class of 1948 Professor of Scholarly Research in Law at the University of Virginia School of Law.

"At a time of intense partisan controversy over the tort law system, Peter Bell and Jeffrey O'Connell have produced exactly what is needed: a thoughtful, comprehensive, and balanced analysis of the current system, together with a judicious appraisal of possible reforms."—Derek Bok

"Bell and O'Connell's lucid primer is designed to educate and inform the public about the American tort system, with its strengths and weaknesses. Accidental Justice offers an honest assessment of our method for compensating the injured. This well-written book deserves serious study by those who work within the tort system, as well as those who are affected by it."—Mitch McConnell

"This is a lively book, well written, scrupulously fair, engaging, comprehensive, and readily comprehensible to any interested reader."—Richard Abel

"This is a wonderful book, exceptionally well written, very balanced, and provocative."—Stephen D. Sugarman, University of California

"This book will be of particular interest to readers with some familiarity with the issues, such as lawyers, government policymakers and Torts professors."—Bimonthly Review of Law Books

"The authors have produced a balanced and readable account of the views held by the opposing sides in this debate. . . . The book will be particularly useful for those who are not immersed in the system on a daily basis."—Michael Foster, Federal Lawyer

"A very readable book. . . . A good choice for a variety of law related courses."—Donald R. Songer, Law and Politics

"The book takes a clear-eyed, balanced look at the tort system—not only the economic and legal aspects, but also the psychological and social effects, of such actions. This is an invaluable book for those whose minds remain open on the subject of tort reform."—National Law Journal

"This book takes a clear-eyed, balanced look at the tort system—not only the economic and legal aspects, but also the psychological and social effects, of such actions. This is an invaluable book for those whose minds remain open on the subject of tort reform."—National Law Journal

"The authors have made good on their promise, taking an evenhanded look at the tort system while exploding some of the wider claims of reformers and their adversaries."—National Law Journal

"This fair-minded book [is] a primer, not a polemic."—Publishers Weekly

"A balanced and thoroughly detailed explanation of the 'horror' after the initial injury—the frustration and anguish for the participants in the litigation of a tort case, and for the businesses and individuals affected by tort law in the big picture—insurers, manufacturers and consumers. . . . An informative and useful primer on the realities of tort litigation and possible reforms. It would be a worthwhile addition to the libraries of those on either side of the tort reform debate, and anyone interested in tort reform generally."—Wisconsin Lawyer

Yale Contemporary Law Series
The American Jury System

Randolph N. Jonakait

View details
Interpreting the Constitution
The Supreme Court and the Process of Adjudication

Harry H. Wellington

View details
American Civil Procedure
An Introduction

Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr.

...
View details
Failure and Forgiveness
Rebalancing the Bankruptcy System

Karen Gross; With a new preface

View details