TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Folmer, Desmet, and Van Bloom on Tort Law, Compensation, and Apologies

Chris Reinders Folmer, Pieter Desmet, and Willem H. Van Bloom have posted to SSRN Is it Really Not About the Money?  Victim Needs Following Personal Injury and Property Loss and Their Relative Restoration Through Monetary Compensation and Apology.  The abstract provides:

Tort law currently debates the value of facilitating apology, particularly in the domain of personal injury litigation, where victims’ immaterial needs are claimed to be neglected by monetary remedies. However, insight on its remedial value is limited, as extant evidence does not yet illuminate 1) which immaterial needs victims experience in tort situations, 2) how prominent these needs are relative to their material needs, 3) how monetary remedies may redress either need, 4) how apologies contribute beyond this, and 5) how this may impact case resolution (i.e., settlement decisions). We present two experimental studies that illuminate these questions by demonstrating that 1) tort victims experience several distinctive immaterial needs (for interpersonal treatment, responsibility taking, punishment, and closure); 2) these needs are relatively less prominent than victims’ material needs, and no more prominent in personal injury cases than following exclusively pecuniary loss; 3) greater monetary compensation enhances the satisfaction of both victims’ material and immaterial needs; 4) apologies further enhance their satisfaction beyond monetary compensation; 5) however, apology had little impact on settlement, which remained mostly contingent on monetary compensation. No indications were found that apologies are especially effective in personal injury cases (relative to exclusively pecuniary loss). Implications are provided for the role of apology in tort law.

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