Comparative Tort Law

Comparative Tort Law

Global Perspectives

Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series

Edited by Mauro Bussani and Anthony J. Sebok

Comparative Tort Law: Global Perspectives provides a framework for analyzing and understanding the current state of tort law in most of the world's legal systems. The book examines tort law theories, rules and cultures. It looks at general issues at play throughout the globe, such as causation, economic and non-economic damages, product and professional liability, as well as the relationship between tort law and crime, insurance, and public welfare schemes. The book also provides insightful case studies by analyzing specific features of selected tort systems in Europe, USA, Latin America, East Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Chapter 15: Tort damages for non-economic losses: Personal injury

Stephen D. Sugarman

Subjects: law - academic, comparative law, law of obligations


Imagine you are physically injured because of the negligence of another. Perhaps you have been run down by a careless truck driver. Perhaps a doctor has committed malpractice while treating you. Perhaps you have been hurt by a defective product. Perhaps you are injured while on someone else’s property because the property owner failed to exercise due care to protect those invited onto the property. And so on. The formal law of most nations around the world, at least in principle, grants you a legal claim against the wrongdoer. In the U.S. and other “common law” nations, this would be termed a cause of action in “tort.” Elsewhere, it might simply be called a “civil action.” Assuming you file this sort of legal claim and a court eventually awards a judgment in your favor, to what damages should you be entitled? Although different words are used in different jurisdictions, damages in these sorts of physical injury cases may be grouped under two helpful headings: economic and non-economic damages – or, as some would put it, pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages. The idea in grouping these two types of damages is to distinguish monetary recovery for monetary losses (pecuniary losses) like lost income and out-of-pocket expenses from additional monetary recovery for non-pecuniary harms that are, nonetheless, recoverable injuries.

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