Manufacturer Liability for Harms Caused by Consumers to Others
AbstractShould the manufacturer of a product be held legally responsible when a consumer, while using the product, harms someone else? We show that if consumers have deep pockets then manufacturer liability is not economically efficient. It is more efficient for the consumers themselves to bear responsibility for the harms that they cause. If homogeneous consumers have limited assets, then the most efficient rule is "residual-manufacturer liability" where the manufacturer pays the shortfall in damages not paid by the consumer. Residual-manufacturer liability distorts the market quantity when consumers' willingness to pay is correlated with their propensity to cause harm. It distorts product safety when consumers differ in their wealth levels. In both cases, consumer-only liability may be more efficient.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10972.
Date of creation: Dec 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Hay, Bruce and Katherine Spier. “Manufacturer Liability for Harm Caused by Consumers to Others.” The American Economic Review 94, 5 (2005): 1700-1711.
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics
- D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2004-12-20 (All new papers)
- NEP-BEC-2004-12-20 (Business Economics)
- NEP-LAW-2004-12-20 (Law & Economics)
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