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The legal injury narrative : personal injury litigation and melodrama


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Hardy, SJ 2005 , 'The legal injury narrative : personal injury litigation and melodrama', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis attempts to explain why personal injury plaintiffs tend to have poorer
health outcomes than non-litigants with similar injuries. It examines the role that
injured plaintiffs have to play in the litigation. The thesis develops the concept of
the "legal injury narrative" and argues that plaintiffs are required to tell their
individual stories in accordance with this master narrative in order to be
successful in their claims. The legal injury narrative is analysed through the
genre of melodrama. This reveals that the role injured plaintiffs are required to
play in the narrative is a passive, mute and dependent one, and this has negative
ramifications for their health outcomes. Examining the legal injury narrative in
this way also reveals some concerning consequences for society as a whole,
particularly the way in which society responds to suffering and how normative
assumptions in the law can perpetuate existings power hierarchies and gender
stereotypes. Mediation is considered as a possible alternative to litigation. It
seems particularly useful as a way of supporting injured people and enabling
them to tell their stories according to a tragic genre, which it is argued is more
conducive to improved health outcomes. In particular it is argued that
mediation, as a future directed procedure, is preferable to the legal injury
narrative's current focus on past events and restoring the status quo.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Hardy, SJ
Keywords: Personal injuries, Compensation (Law), Mediation, Sociological jurisprudence
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2005 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Available for library use only and copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968, as amended. Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2006. Includes bibliographical references. Ch. 1. Background -- Ch. 2. Melodrama -- Ch. 3. The legal injury narrative -- Ch. 4. Melodramatic blame -- Ch. 5. The defendant role -- Ch. 6. The plaintiff role -- Ch. 7. Recognition of virtue -- Ch. 8. The judge, proof, and reward -- Ch. 9. Implications and conclusions

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