An Alternative Explanation for No-Fault’s “Demise “


Publish Date:
December 30, 2012
Publication Title:
61 DePaul Law Review 303 .
Journal Article
  • Nora Freeman Engstrom, An Alternative Explanation for No-Fault's "Demise," 61 DePaul Law Review 303 (2012).


In the space of one decade, automobile no-fault legislation — the second most ambitious alternative compensation scheme ever enacted in the United States — went from being widely viewed as “inevitable” to having, it is said, met its sad “demise.” Using a broad mix of primary source material, including voluminous congressional testimony and thousands of contemporaneous press and journal accounts, this Article excavates the history of the American no-fault experiment. With the benefit of this previously untapped material, the Article enriches — and in places, complicates — conventional explanations for why no-fault fizzled. It then situates the no-fault experience within a larger socio-legal framework and, in so doing, raises provocative questions about no-fault’s legacy. Then it finally, and more broadly, steps back to view the no-fault experiment not in isolation but as an exemplar of what may be a larger story about tort’s durability and the evolution, and ultimate convergence, of even very different legal regimes over time.