Tort costs and the economy: Myths, exaggerations, and propaganda
Publication Date: November 2006
Publisher(s): Economic Policy Institute
Author(s): Ross Eisenbrey
The legal system for adjudicating tort claims in the United States delivers important benefits to the American
people. Most notably, these benefits include the compensation of injured persons (including people harmed by giant corporations and other powerful interests), the deterrence of wrongdoing, greater investments
in product innovation and safety, and the civilized, non-violent settlement of disputes. These benefits are rarely quantified, and critics generally focus exclusively on the system's costs, whose magnitude and impact they tend to exaggerate, claiming that job growth, productivity, health care, and corporate profits suffer under the current system. Although a full review requires an examination of both the costs and benefits of the system, this briefing paper reviews only the tort system's most commonly alleged economic costs and impacts and shows that most have little or no basis in reality.