Imagine the legislature is considering adopting a tort-reform proposal for car accidents. The main features of the proposal are as follows:

  • The plan covers all drivers and passengers of automobiles who are injured in car accidents in the state.
  • All such victims will be able to recover
    • their full medical bills,
    • 70% of their lost wages or $52,000/year, whichever is less, for a period not to exceed two years, and
    • pain and suffering damages, but only for loss of a limb or permanent and serious disfigurement, and only then in an amount up to $50,000.
  • Respondeat superior is abolished for all car accidents.
  • Punitive damages are abolished for all car accidents.
  • The plan is comprehensive and eliminates all tort duties toward victims to whom the proposal applies.
  • The plan is funded through a new gasoline tax and takes priority over both private health insurance and existing automobile insurance.

Please answer the following questions in a document that you upload. Please don’t put your name in the document (so that I can grade the individual papers anonymously before entering grades in Canvas).

1. Consider the following simple fact pattern: John is a truck-driver for a large trucking company, and he falls asleep at the wheel after a long shift and runs his truck into another car. He suffers minor lacerations and is off from work for a week, losing $800 in wages. Sarah, the driver of the other car, has a concussion and misses work for six months, losing $25,000 in wages. She also now has a serious ringing in her ears that does not seem to have gone away, even years after the accident.
Describe: (A) as specifically as you can, how modern general tort law would address this situation and (B) what specific differences there would be under the proposal. Please be as thorough as you can in this analysis.
2. Imagine you are assisting the general counsel of a large university. Give your assessment of the impact of this proposal on the university.

3. Overall, do you think this is a good proposal? Why or why not? What would you change, in view of the particular doctrines of tort law that you’ve studied in this course? What more would you need to know about the plan to give a full assessment?

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