July 1, 2008
Horwitz and Mead on the Effect of Volunteer Immunity Laws
Jill R. Horwitz (Michigan) and Joseph Mead (Michigan) have posted Letting Good Deeds Go Unpunished: Volunteer Immunity Laws and Tort Deterrence, which will be published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies. The abstract is as follows:
Does tort law deter risky behavior in individuals? We explore this question by examining the relationship between tort immunity and volunteering. During the 1980s and 1990s, nearly every state provided some degree of volunteer immunity. Congress followed with the 1997 Volunteer Protection Act. This article analyzes these acts, identifying three motivations for them: the chilling effects of tort liability, limits on liability insurance, and moral concerns. Using data from the Independent Survey's Giving and Volunteering surveys, we then identify a large and positive correlation between immunity and volunteering. We next consider the implications of the findings for tort theory and nonprofit law.
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