The Damages Lottery
A man slips on a dance floor and breaks his leg. He recovers damages. A child has both legs amputated as a result of meningitis and is awarded nothing. The law’s justification for awarding damages in the first case is that the man’s injury was the fault of someone else, while in the second case damages are denied because nobody was at fault. In this searching critique of the present law and practice relating to damages, Professor Patrick Atiyah shows that this system is in fact a lottery. He contends that the public are paying far too much for an unfair and inefficient insurance system and that reform is long overdue. His conclusion is that actions for damages for injuries should be abolished and replaced with a new no-fault road accident scheme, and actions for other injuries should be dealt with by individual or group insurance policies.