The Burdens of All

A Social History of American Tort Law

by Joseph A. Ranney

Tags: Legal History, Torts

Table of Contents (PDF)

264 pp  $47.00

ISBN 978-1-5310-2333-1
eISBN 978-1-5310-2334-8

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Tort law, the law of how the costs of accidents and other harms should be allocated, is part of America's larger story of social conflict and progress. The Burdens of All is the first book to fully recount tort law's place in that story.

The book describes the law's struggle to move from nineteenth-century individualism, which required accident victims to shift for themselves and protected corporations, to the view that accidents are an inevitable part of modern industrial society and must be paid for by society as a whole. Also, the book paints vivid pictures of the judges and social reformers who have shaped tort law's course; the current struggle between individualism and socialization; and the historical struggle over the proper balance of power between judges and juries in tort cases. Its wealth of information and insights will intrigue law and social history devotees alike.

"Ranney '78 places tort law within the sweep of U.S. history, arguing that social movements both shape and absorb tort jurisprudence. Ranney's five-part chronology tracks how scholars, activists, and judges have enacted the principles of civil law, particularly the notion that those who suffer accidents or similar harms deserve recompense. "
— Yale Law Report