Ralph Nader’s Opposition to Prop. 51
Richard Abel says in his article (Editorial Pages, May 23), “Liability Insurance ‘Crisis’: Victims Need Protection,” that the purpose of tort law is to help victims and promote safety. He says joint and several liability promotes the latter by deterring negligence. In my opinion that’s just what it doesn’t do.
After all, when a defendant only 5% at fault can be required to pay 95% of the damages because he has the deepest pockets while the real culprit, because he may be insolvent or financially irresponsible, pays nothing or only a very small percentage, where is the accountability that would deter negligence?
As for victim compensation, the victim under Proposition 51 would still recover 100% of his economic costs. Only “pain and suffering” would not be paid for by the deep pockets defendant simply he has the deep pockets. As Abel made so much of the economic losses of victims, it was very negligent of him to leave that fact out.