Who Pays for Car Accidents?: The Fault versus No-Fault Insurance Debate

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Georgetown University Press, Dec 18, 2001 - Political Science - 144 pages

In this new volume, two lawyers debate which kind of automobile insurance is the best, no-fault or tort liability. This book presents in one place all the legal, political, historical, and financial arguments about the two types of auto insurance.

Under the fault system currently used by thirty-seven states, tort law provides that the party at fault in the accident pays the full damages of accident victims. Jerry J. Phillips favors this system, arguing that it allows for fair compensation to the injured and deters drivers from dangerous behavior on the road.

Stephen Chippendale counters this claim with the argument that tort-law based insurance combines high cost and low benefits, and that those who truly profit from it are the lawyers representing injured clients, while their claims clog up the court system. A better solution, he proposes, would be "Auto Choice," a plan under which consumers would choose whether or not they wished to be eligible for damages from pain and suffering.

With civility and respect, these two legal scholars present thoughtful and thorough arguments on both sides of the debate, giving readers a balanced view of an issue that affects nearly every American. It will be of particular value to those in the fields of law, policy, and insurance.


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Page 8 - Multiply the same duties and hazards by any number of other operators in the immediate vicinity; add the duties and hazards of highway maintenance, passengers, pedestrians, and adjacent landowners, the conduct of any one or more of whom may impose upon all operators in close proximity duties and hazards requiring instant and perhaps unerring judgment and action. Add further the hazards of climatic conditions; the imperfections of the human being in sight, judgment, muscular reaction, health, strength,...
Page 8 - ... inaccurate one. The evidence given in personal injury cases usually consists of highly contradictory statements from the two sides, estimating such factors as time, speed, distance and visibility, offered months after the event by witnesses who were never very sure just what happened when they saw it, and whose faulty memories are undermined by lapse of time, by bias, by conversations with others and by the subtle influence of counsel. Upon such evidence, a jury of twelve inexperienced citizens,...
Page 8 - Add further the hazards of climatic conditions; the imperfections of the human being in sight, judgment, muscular reaction, health, strength, and experience. Bring any combination of these duties and hazards into focus on a collision at high speed at a particular point of time and place. Who can name all the factors involved in causing the collision? Who can know or discover or describe the conduct of the parties involved ? Who in retrospect from the tangled fragments of evidence given by the participants...
Page 8 - The operator must observe the operation of other vehicles, front and rear and to the sides — those he is meeting, those that pass, and those that may cross his path. He must observe road signs, stop signs, cautions, traffic lines, light signals and those of traffic officers. He must observe his speed and he must watch for signals of other motorists and give proper signals himself.

About the author (2001)

Jerry J. Phillips is W.P. Toms Professor of Law and Walter W. Bussart Distinguished Professor of Tort Law at the University of Tennessee College of Law.

Stephen Chippendale is an associate at the law firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in Washington, D.C., and served as Deputy General Counsel to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign.

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