Vanderbilt Law Review


Lorence L. Timm

First Page



One of the most acute socio-economic and legal problems confronting society today concerns the compensation of traffic victims. In 1966, there were 52,500 persons killed as a result of traffic accidents,'which constituted nearly one-half of all accident fatalities. In addition, 868,000 persons were injured, and the total cost of motor vehicle accidents was estimated at ten billion dollars. As a result of the steadily rising accident toll, there has been increased concern over means of insuring that victims of automobile accidents will be compensated. This concern has been aggravated by the continued presence of the financially irresponsible motorist. The problem becomes even more acute when one considers that in 1966 there was a total of 94,177,000 motor vehicles registered in the United States and 98,496,000 licensed drivers, whereas by 1983 it is estimated that there will be 115,000,000 vehicles. The states first attempted to solve this problem by means of the financial responsibility law. At present, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have some form of financial responsibility statute, including North Carolina, New York and Massachusetts," which also have compulsory insurance laws. Although vigorously defended by the insurance industry, these financial responsibility statutes have come under strong criticism for failure to achieve their intended purpose. Although a variety of plans for compensation without respect to fault have been proposed--such as, the Columbia Plan, Saskatchewan Plan, Full Aid Insurance, and Basic Protection Insurance-American jurisdictions have retained the "fault" principle and have concentrated on plans designed to assure that motorists will be capable of responding with damages should the need arise. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to summarize the operation and effect of financial responsibility laws with a consideration of existing problem areas, and to submit suggested proposals for reform.

Included in

Insurance Law Commons