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Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid x Jaar 2012 x
Artikel

Medical liability: do doctors care?

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 2 2012
Auteurs Ben C.J. van Velthoven en Peter W. van Wijck
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    Van Velthoven and Van Wijck review empirical studies on the effects of tort law in the medical sector. The data they present comes mainly from the US, because from the 1970’s US states have enacted a variety of reforms in their tort systems. This variation has provided very useful data to study preventive effects. The empirical evidence analysed shows that medical malpractice risk affects the behaviour of health care providers. It has a negative impact on the supply of services and it encourages extra diagnostic testing;yet if the additional tests and procedures have any value, it is only a marginal one. Furthermore it has been found that changes in the supply of services do not affect health adversely. This suggests that the physicians who are driven out of business have a below average quality of performance. The authors conclude that, at the margin, medical liability law may have some social benefits after all.


Ben C.J. van Velthoven
Ben van Velthoven is associate professor of law and economics at Leiden University. His research interests are: liability issues, civil litigation, and criminal law enforcement.

Peter W. van Wijck
Peter van Wijck is associate professor of law and economics at Leiden University and coordinator strategy development at the Dutch Ministry of Security and Justice. His research interests concern tort law, contract law, civil litigation, and crime.
Artikel

Non-pecuniary damages: financial incentive or symbol?

Comparing an economic and a sociological account of tort law

Tijdschrift Recht der Werkelijkheid, Aflevering 2 2012
Auteurs Rob Schwitters
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Schwitters focuses on the differences between economic and a sociological perspectives on non-pecuniary damages. By exposing the alternative perspectives on this issue, he illuminates some methodological differences between both disciplines. Although law and economics has had a positive influence on empirical research, he questions the merits of this perspective when analysing non-pecuniary damages. Law and economics regards non-pecuniary damages exclusively as a financial incentive to realise optimal deterrence and maximisation of welfare. Alternatively, in sociology of law there is also attention for the symbolic dimension of law in which rules are seen as normative standards of behaviour. Compensation is a way to bring the wrongdoer to recognise that he has done wrong and has to compensate the victim, and to show the victim that his rights are taken seriously. Through a sociological lens, the adoption of an exclusively economic model of human behaviour has to be questioned. To what extent human behaviour is really influenced by either financial incentives or by normative standards of behaviour is an open empirical question. Finally, he argues that the decision to base our institutions (such as law) on economic underpinnings is a decision which itself cannot be based on an economic procedure of aggregating individual preferences and maximising welfare.


Rob Schwitters
Rob Schwitters is associate professor (sociology of law) and member of the Paul Scholten Centre (University of Amsterdam). He publishes on tort law, responsibility and liability, the welfare state, compliance and methodological issues.
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