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Medical Malpractice Appeals in a Civil Law System: Do Administrative and Civil Courts Award Non-Economic Damages Differently?

Sofia Amaral-Garcia

ULB Institutional Repository from ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles

Abstract: How do courts award noneconomic damages? Does it matter if the state is the defendant? This article addresses these questions in the context of medical malpractice appeals to the Spanish Supreme Court. Moreover, this study provides the first empirical analysis of the quantification of noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases in administrative courts, where the state is the defendant, and in civil courts. This separation of jurisdictions is a common feature in civil law tradition countries. Yet, critics of this separation in general, and specialized courts in particular, argue that parties might be subject to different treatments and that similar cases might reach different outcomes, namely in terms of the quantification of damages. A consistent result of this paper is that no significant differences between noneconomic damages in civil and administrative appeals were found. The separation of jurisdictions does not necessarily imply that courts reach different outcomes, even when the state is the defendant. Citizens should not refrain from bringing their claims forward against the state, a more powerful party. In the current era of increasing juridification and judicialization of modern life (Ginsburg 2009; Hirschl 2006; Hirschl 2011), it is crucial for society that citizens and other parties litigating with the state are not disadvantageously treated.

Keywords: medical malpractice; non-economic damages; civil law; Supreme Court Spain (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019-01-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-law
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Published in: Law & society review (2019) v.53 n° 2,p.386-419

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