in Miscellany

Daniels on bogus illnesses

Anthony Daniels (a.k.a. Theodore Dalrymple) on “bogus illnesses” and their relationship to tort law.

Miracles are usually taken to mean that saints or relics cause miraculous improvements, but the tort law system causes miraculous deterioration in people. According to this law, if a person does you wrong by act, omission or negligence, and you suffer from it, you are entitled to compensation. And this sounds like a natural justice, but as we know – anything that can be corrupted by perverse incentives will be corrupted by perverse incentives.

It is in the power of any man to exaggerate what he has suffered, and continues to suffer. And in this case, the alleged injury – namely, whiplash – exists only in those countries in which the sufferer of it can be legally compensated for it. It does not exist in those jurisdictions where it is not recognized as an injury that can be compensated.

Apart from a slight soreness of the neck for a day or two, in other jurisdictions people get better straight away. But not in England or America.

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