Street Law: A Course in Practical Law

Chapter 22: Torts and Public Policy

Chapter Overviews

As a matter of public policy, tort law should compensate harmed victims promptly and efficiently, ensure that victims receive the compensation from the responsible defendant, and deter future risky behavior. Many people criticize the current tort system for various reasons, including unreasonably high awards to plaintiffs; the expense, length of time, and complexity involved in tort suits; and difficulty in determining who is at fault.

Tort Reform  Tort reform is a movement that has developed to address people's concerns about the tort system. Some efforts at reform target the actual process involved in settling tort claims. One effort is to try to convince the parties to settle out of court to avoid a lengthy and expensive trial. Other tort reform efforts focus on placing limits on how much a plaintiff can collect. These may include laws that set a limit for damages awarded for pain and suffering or that make it more difficult for a plaintiff to collect punitive damages. Remember that punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant rather than compensate a victim.

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