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The unexpected effects of caps on non-economic damages

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  • Avraham, Ronen
  • Bustos, Álvaro

Abstract

This paper focuses on the economic and legal implications of the enactment of caps on non-economic damages on conflicting parties who know that state supreme courts may strike down the caps as unconstitutional within a few years of enactment. We develop a simple screening model where parties have symmetric expectations regarding the probability of a strike down and asymmetric information regarding plaintiff's non-economic harm. Our model makes the following predictions: First, caps may increase the length required to resolve disputes if the caps are low enough or the probability of a strike down is large enough. Second, although caps always increase the percentage of disputes that are settled out of courts, they do not necessarily save litigation expenses. Third, when caps increase the length of dispute resolution, they also increase litigation expenses if and only if the settlement negotiation costs are neither too small nor too large. Fourth, while caps always reduce the recoveries of plaintiffs with large claims, caps may increase recoveries of plaintiffs with low claims compared to their recoveries in states with no caps. We end by discussing the robustness of the results.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Review of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 30 (2010)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 291-305

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Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:30:y:2010:i:4:p:291-305

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/irle

Related research

Keywords: Tort reform Caps on recoveries Length of dispute resolution;

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References

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  1. Janet Currie & W. Bentley MacLeod, 2006. "First Do No Harm?: Tort Reform and Birth Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 12478, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Schweizer, Urs, 1989. "Litigation and Settlement under Two-Sided Incomplete Information," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 163-77, April.
  3. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 1994. "Settlement Negotiations with Two-Sided Asymmetric Information: Model Duality, Information Distribution and Efficiency," Game Theory and Information 9403009, EconWPA.
  4. Holger Sieg, 2000. "Estimating a Bargaining Model with Asymmetric Information: Evidence from Medical Malpractice Disputes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(5), pages 1006-1021, October.
  5. George L. Priest & Benjamin Klein, 1984. "The Selection of Disputes for Litigation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 1-56, January.
  6. Babcock, Linda & Pogarsky, Greg, 1999. "Damage Caps and Settlement: A Behavioral Approach," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(2), pages 341-70, June.
  7. Patricia M. Danzon, 1991. "Liability for Medical Malpractice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 51-69, Summer.
  8. Lucian Arye Bebchuk, 1987. "Suing Solely to Extract a Settlement Offer," NBER Working Papers 2161, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Ronen Avraham, 2007. "An Empirical Study of the Impact of Tort Reforms on Medical Malpractice Settlement Payments," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(S2), pages S183-S229, 06.
  10. Kessler, Daniel, 1996. "Institutional Causes of Delay in the Settlement of Legal Disputes," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(2), pages 432-60, October.
  11. Daniel P. Kessler & Daniel L. Rubinfeld, 2004. "Empirical Study of the Civil Justice System," NBER Working Papers 10825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Landes, William M, 1971. "An Economic Analysis of the Courts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 61-107, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Landeo, Claudia & Nikitin, Maxim & Izmalkov, Sergei, 2012. "Playing against an Apparent Opponent: Incentives for Care, Litigation, and Damage Caps under Self-Serving Bias," Working Papers 2012-9, University of Alberta, Department of Economics.

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