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The Psychology of Tort Law$
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Jennifer K. Robbennolt and Valerie P. Hans

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780814724941

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814724941.001.0001

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Limits on Liability

Limits on Liability

Duty and Scope of Liability

(p.83) 5 Limits on Liability
The Psychology of Tort Law

Jennifer K. Robbennolt

Valerie P. Hans

NYU Press

This chapter describes how tort law deploys the concepts of duty and scope of liability (proximate cause) to limit civil liability. Some of these limits overlap with psychological principles; others are at odds with them. The lack of a general duty to rescue others from harm converges with omission bias, the psychological tendency to see acts as more blameworthy than failures to act. The foreseeability of specific types of harms that could result from an action is a key element in assessing the scope of liability, also in line with psychology. In contrast, people highly value emotional tranquility and close personal relationships, yet tort law places strict constraints on recovery for emotional harm.

Keywords:   duty, duty to rescue, emotional harm, foreseeability, omission bias, proximate cause, scope of liability

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