Friday, July 7, 2006

Comparative Glimpses of Tort Regimes

Vacation was great. I didn't touch a computer and didn't see a legal publication. Nonetheless, tort law came up in three different contexts:

  • Our whitewater rafting guide talked about a colleague who works as a guide in Montana in the summertime here, and then goes to New Zealand to raft when it's summer there. Our guide reported that, because of people's propensity to sue over injuries here, no U.S. rafting companies will take tourists on Level V rapids, but things are different in New Zealand, and they will take rafts over dramatic drops where all the riders can do is hold on and lean back as the raft plummets. (We were on a Level II/III tour, and that was just fine with me.)
  • I met a doctor, also on vacation, who practices in Canada but used to practice in the States. This doctor perceived that Americans are much more prone to sue if something goes wrong (even when the doctor is practicing good medicine).
  • In the car coming home, we heard a Marketplace story about the compensation paid by the UK government to victims and survivors of the subway and bus bombings a year ago. Some people are highly critical of the government, noting that the compensation is just a small fraction of the awards paid after the 9/11 attacks in the U.S. Marketplace: Anger lingers after London bombings
I don't have a profound point to make here, but it was striking to hear these contrasts between other common-law jurisdictions and our own.

And now I'm off to my meeting in St. Louis. . .

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