Legal Blame: How Jurors Think and Talk About Accidents

Pages: 301
Item #: 4315190
ISBN: 978-1-55798-677-1
List Price: $49.95
Member/Affiliate Price: $39.95
Publication Date: 2000
Format: Hardcover
Other Format: Softcover
Note: This book is out of print and no longer available for purchase.

This edition is no longer for sale. However, a softcover edition is available.

This book sheds new light on how jurors try to do justice in the wake of accidents and reveals much about the overall psychology of jury decision-making. Neal Feigenson, a professor of law, offers an illuminating framework for how jurors deploy their common sense, together with the law and the facts, to produce what the author refers to as "total justice."

Feigenson analyzes both the words lawyers use to help jurors assign blame and the words jurors themselves use as they make decisions. With a minimal use of jargon, the author summarizes the leading research from social and cognitive psychology to show how everyday habits of thought and feeling inform jurors' decisions. Contrary to common stereotypes about jurors, jurors integrate their thoughts and feelings to reach decisions that are usually correct enough by legal standards, although not always for what the law would consider the right reasons. Legal Blame provides a nuanced appreciation of the civil jury, with clear examples and in-depth analysis of how jurors help make tort law.

A unique book that spans both professions, Legal Blame helps explains psychology to non-psychologists and the law to non-lawyers. It will appeal to lawyers, expert witnesses, practicing students, academics, as well as anyone who is interested in learning about the psychology of legal persuasion.

Table of Contents



  1. Legal Rules and Expert Rationales: Accident Law and Philosophy
  2. The Social Psychology of Juror Judgments I: Cognitive Frameworks and Heuristics
  3. The Social Psychology of Juror Judgments II: Emotions and Legal Judgment
  4. How Jurors Think About Accidents
  5. The Rhetoric of Accidents: How Advocates Help Jurors Think About Liability and Damages
  6. Accidents as Melodrama: Lawyers' Arguments and Jurors' Responses
  7. Prior Beliefs and Common-Sense Judgment: Mock Jurors Deliberate a Medical Malpractice Case
  8. Some Implications of Legal Blaming

Appendix: Note on Emotions and Social Judgment

Table of Authority


Author Index

Subject Index

About the Author