W. Kip Viscusi

Document Type


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Michigan Law & Policy Review

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tort liability, damages, pain and suffering, compensation


Law | Torts


This paper will address pain and suffering generally and will not distinguish these different potential components of pain and suffering damages. Section 1 presents the theoretical foundations for damages awards, including both the deterrence and compensation objectives. Section 2 explores some practical rationales for pain and suffering damages, such as the omission of legal fees as a component of damages. Section 3 examines the extent to which pain and suffering awards vary systematically with the extent and nature of the injury as opposed to simply being random acts of capricious juries. Since much of the interest in pain and suffering damages is intertwined with concerns about tort liability reform, a major concern of interest is the extent to which these reforms are influential in affecting liability losses. This is the subject of Section 4, which examines the efficacy of tort liability reforms in achieving their intended objectives. Section 5 examines several reform proposals and indicates how different rationales for pain and suffering damages would affect the level of pain and suffering awards and the objectives they promote. The guiding principle that I will adopt is to assess which structure of pain and suffering damages has the intended economic consequences and best improves the overall performance of tort liability. The objective is not cost minimization or reducing jury awards but efficient operation of legal institutions.

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Torts Commons



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