Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

The Uneasy Case for Product Liability

Contents:

Author Info

  • Polinsky, A. Mitchell
  • Shavell, Steven M.

Abstract

In this Article we compare the benefits of product liability to its costs and conclude that the case for product liability is weak for a wide range of products. One benefit of product liability is that it can induce firms to improve product safety. Even in the absence of product liability, however, firms would often be motivated by market forces to enhance product safety because their sales may fall if their products harm consumers. Moreover, products must frequently conform to safety regulations. Consequently, product liability might not exert a significant additional influence on product safety for many products — and empirical studies of several widely sold products lend support to this hypothesis. A second benefit of product liability is that it can improve consumer purchase decisions by causing product prices to increase to reflect product risks. But because of litigation costs and other factors, product liability may raise prices excessively and undesirably chill purchases. A third benefit of product liability is that it compensates victims of product-related accidents for their losses. Yet this benefit is only partial, for accident victims are frequently compensated by insurers for some or all of their losses. Furthermore, the award of damages for pain and suffering tends to reduce the welfare of individuals because it effectively forces them to purchase insurance for a type of loss for which they ordinarily do not wish to be covered. Opposing the benefits of product liability are its costs, which are great. Notably, the transfer of a dollar to a victim of a product accident through the liability system requires more than a dollar on average in legal expenses. Given the limited nature of the benefits and the high costs of product liability, we come to the judgment that its use is often unwarranted. This is especially likely for products for which market forces and regulation are relatively strong, which includes many widely sold products. Our generally skeptical assessment of product liability for such products is in tension with the broad social endorsement of this form of liability.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://regulation2point0.org/wp-content/plugins/download-monitor/download.php?id=575
Our checks indicate that this address may not be valid because: 404 Not Found. If this is indeed the case, please notify (Archive Maintainer)
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Regulation2point0 in its series Working paper with number 575.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: Apr 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:reg:wpaper:575

Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://regulation2point0.org/

Related research

Keywords:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 2012. "Costly Litigation and Optimal Damages," NBER Working Papers 18594, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Andrzej Baniak & Peter Grajzl, 2012. "Equilibrium and Welfare in a Model of Torts with Industry Reputation Effects," CEU Working Papers 2012_4, Department of Economics, Central European University, revised 10 Apr 2012.
  3. Baumann, Florian & Friehe, Tim, 2012. "Optimal damages multipliers in oligopolistic markets," DICE Discussion Papers 80, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
  4. Baumann, Florian & Friehe, Tim & Grechenig, Kristoffel, 2011. "A note on the optimality of (even more) incomplete strict liability," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 77-82, June.
  5. Elena Fagotto, 2014. "Private roles in food safety provision: the law and economics of private food safety," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 37(1), pages 83-109, February.
  6. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 2012. "Costly Litigation and Optimal Damages," Discussion Papers 12-005, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  7. Polinsky, A. Mitchell & Shavell, Steven, 2014. "Costly litigation and optimal damages," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 86-89.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:reg:wpaper:575. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Archive Maintainer).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.