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Tort Reform and Accidental Deaths

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  • Rubin, Paul H.
  • Shepherd, Joanna M.

Abstract

Theory suggests that tort reform could have either of two impacts on accidents. First, reforms could increase accidents as tortfeasors internalize less of the costs of externalities, and thus, have less incentive to reduce the risk of accidents. Second, tort reforms could decrease accidents as lower expected liability costs result in lower prices, enabling consumers to buy more risk-reducing products such as medicines, safety equipment, and medical services. We test which effect dominates by examining the effect of tort reforms on non-motor vehicle accidental death rates, using panel data techniques. We find that caps on noneconomic damages, caps on punitive damages, a higher evidence standard for punitive damages, product liability reform, and prejudgment interest reform lead to fewer accidental deaths, while reforms to the collateral source rule lead to increased deaths. Overall, the tort reforms in the states between 1981-2000 have led to an estimated 14,222 fewer accidental deaths.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Regulation2point0 in its series Working paper with number 305.

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Date of creation: Oct 2005
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Handle: RePEc:reg:wpaper:305

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  1. Paul Rubin, 2005. "Public choice and tort reform," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 124(1), pages 223-236, July.
  2. Calfee, John E & Rubin, Paul H, 1992. "Some Implications of Damage Payments for Nonpecuniary Losses," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 371-411, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Thomas J. Miceli & Michael P. Stone, 2010. "The Determinants of State-Level Caps on Punitive Damages: Theory and Evidence," Working papers 2010-25, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  2. Lakdawalla, Darius N. & Seabury, Seth A., 2012. "The welfare effects of medical malpractice liability," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 356-369.
  3. Maria Dementyeva & Paul R. Koster & Erik T. Verhoef, 2013. "Regulation of Road Accident Externalities when Insurance Companies have Market Power," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-019/VIII, Tinbergen Institute.
  4. Daniel Carvell & Janet Currie & W. Bentley MacLeod, 2012. "Accidental death and the rule of joint and several liability," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 43(1), pages 51-77, 03.
  5. Maria Dementyeva & Paul R. Koster & Erik T. Verhoef, 2013. "Regulation of Road Accident Externalities when Insurance Companies have Market Power," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-019/VIII, Tinbergen Institute.
  6. Theodore Eisenberg & Christoph Engel, 2012. "Assuring Adequate Deterrence in Tort: A Public Good Experiment," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2012_07, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  7. Anca Cotet, 2009. "Tort Reform and the Demand for Medical Care: Evidence from State-by-State Variation in Non-Economic Damages Caps," Working Papers 200901, Ball State University, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2010.
  8. Darius N. Lakdawalla & Seth A. Seabury, 2009. "The Welfare Effects of Medical Malpractice Liability," NBER Working Papers 15383, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Baumann, Florian & Heine, Klaus, 2012. "Innovation, tort law, and competition," DICE Discussion Papers 78, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).

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