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Legal theorists have high aspirations for tort liability: It should deliver sufficient compensation to injured claimants to restore them to the position they were in prior to the accident in which they were injured. It should deter potential injurers from negligent behavior and assure that business decision makers take the costs of accidental injuries into account in designing, manufacturing, and distributing products and providing services to consumers. It should satisfy injured individuals' desires for justice by allocating the responsibility for repairing harms to their injurers. By assigning the management of the compensation process to the courts, and establishing individualized processes for deciding tort claims, the liability system should also empower and underscore the worth of the individual and provide a means for the community to articulate and enforce social norms regarding the responsibilities of individuals and organizations to each other.

Originally published in: Everyday Practices and Trouble Cases, A. Sarat et al., eds, Northwestern University Press, 1998, pp. 155-176.

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