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Tort Law: Required for Liberty

I am sure not many people spend much time thinking about Tort Law but most have heard it mentioned in the phrase “Tort Reform” and have somehow gotten this notion that it’s a terrible thing. Of course it can be abused, that’s true. But it really is an important judicial tool for regular citizens like you and I. Tort Law is really the thing that would replace government regulations in a true free market system. Right now there is a double attack on businesses, one that comes from regulations and the other from law suits.

The Museum asks us to “imagine a country where you couldn’t sue.” It’s not enough to say that a business that sells poison food will just go out of business Though that’s true. They have done harm and so violated your rights. If you are libertarian, they’ve violated NAP. It’s nice to say don’t do that, don’t violate NAP but without some legal remedy that’s just a nice little fantasy that everyone will go ahead and not do that. Like socialism, anarchism, NAP only works if everyone agrees on it. But as soon as one person doesn’t the rest of the people are left with what to do about it. In our system, tort law is the answer. The museum website goes on to explain”

“Without tort law, and access to the courts, if somebody hurt you, you’d only have three options:

1. Go to the police, and hope that they think it was a crime worth investigating.

2. Do nothing – just sit there and take it;

3. Retaliate and seek revenge. Nothing quite like a blood feud to make things right.

But it gets worse. Bad actors would have no reason to shape up or change their ways. Without a system of law to hold people, corporations, and even governments accountable, there would be no checks on bad behavior.”

So if we want a system without minimum government intervention the courts, properly run, are the only real solution. Without tort law government will step in at every angle they can to protect citizens. According to the Center for Justice and Democracy:

” A move from the tort system to reliance on government agencies to protect consumers and deter corporate misconduct would likely require: more bureaucracy to enforce the regulations, higher taxes or a shift of money from other sources to pay for increased governmental enforcement, more paperwork from businesses, and greater governmental interference in business practices. Even these changes would not guarantee a more effective regulatory system or equal or better protections for consumers than those that exist under of the tort system.”

I believe this is true. That leaves me thinking that the bad reputation of tort law needs to reformed. Changes should be made to keep frivolous suits out of court but also to make it easier for those without cash for an attorney to sue the corporations that have all the cash in the world. I’m only begin to really delve into this subject, so just what I think that reform should look like I don’t yet know. I only see the benefit of tort law, the necessity of it for liberty and minimal government in a free market, and the fact that some people can abuse it to make a buck when the business hasn’t really done anything wrong.

Corvair Crashed

Source: The American Museum of Tort Law, the first museum of law.

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