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Playing against an Apparent Opponent: Incentives for Care, Litigation, and Damage Caps under Self-Serving Bias

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Author Info

  • Landeo, Claudia

    ()
    (University of Alberta, Department of Economics)

  • Nikitin, Maxim

    (International College of Economics and Finance NRU HSE)

  • Izmalkov, Sergei

    ()
    (New Economic School)

Abstract

This paper presents a strategic model of incentives for care and litigation under asymmetric information and self-serving bias, and studies the effects of caps on non-economic damages. We contribute to the theoretical law and economics literature by providing the first assessment of the effects of self-serving bias on incentives for care and social welfare, and the first evaluation of the effects of damage caps on incentives for care in an environment that allows for biased litigants. We also contribute to the behavioral economics literature by generalizing the perfect Bayesian equilibrium concept to strategic environments with biased players. Our main findings are as follows. First, our results suggest that the defendant’s bias decreases his expenditures on accident prevention, and hence, increases the likelihood of accidents. Second, both litigants’ biases increase the likelihood of disputes. Third, our results indicate that, although self-serving bias help litigants commit on tough negotiation positions, it is economically self-defeating for the informed plaintiff. The plaintiff’s self-serving bias dilutes the first-mover advantage observed in environments in which only asymmetric information is considered. Fourth, our findings suggest that that the plaintiff’s bias is always welfare reducing. The defendant’s bias is welfare reducing if under-deterrence is present. We then illustrate the benefits of incorporating self-serving bias into the theoretical analysis of tort reform by studying the effects of caps on non-economic damages. We find that damage caps decrease the defendant’s level of care if the biased defendant perceives the cap as relatively low. Importantly, we find that the positive effect of damage caps on lowering the likelihood of disputes, commonly attributed to this tort reform, might not necessarily be observed in environments with biased litigants: Caps might induce higher likelihood of disputes if the defendant perceives the cap as relatively low, and the plaintiff perceives the cap as relatively high. As a result, caps on non-economic damages might be welfare reducing.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Alberta, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2012-15.

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Length: 44 pages
Date of creation: 01 Jun 2012
Date of revision: 01 Oct 2012
Handle: RePEc:ris:albaec:2012_015

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Keywords: settlement; litigation; incentives for care; caps on non-economic damages; self-serving bias; asymmetric information; apparent opponents; perfect Bayesian equilibrium; motivated reasoning; divergent beliefs; universal divinity refinement; motivated achoring; non-cooperative games; disputes; pretrial bargaining;

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References

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  1. Deffains, Bruno & Langlais, Eric, 2008. "Legal Interpretative Process and Litigants’ Cognitive Biases," MPRA Paper 14370, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Álvaro Bustos & Ronen Avraham., 2008. "The Unexpected Effects of Caps on Non-Economic Damages," Documentos de Trabajo 353, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
  3. Landeo, Claudia M. & Nikitin, Maxim & Babcock, Linda, 2007. "Split-awards and disputes: An experimental study of a strategic model of litigation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 553-572, July.
  4. Kennan, John & Wilson, Robert, 1993. "Bargaining with Private Information," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 45-104, March.
  5. Brooks, Richard & Landeo, Claudia & Spier, Kathryn, 2009. "Trigger Happy or Gun Shy? Dissolving Common-Value Partnerships with Texas Shootouts," Working Papers 2009-1, University of Alberta, Department of Economics, revised 01 Jul 2013.
  6. Claudia M. Landeo & Maxim Nikitin, 2006. "Split-Award Tort Reform, Firm's Level of Care, and Litigation Outcomes," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 162(4), pages 571-600, December.
  7. Muhamet Yildiz, 2003. "Bargaining without a Common Prior-An Immediate Agreement Theorem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(3), pages 793-811, 05.
  8. Claudia M. Landeo & Maxim Nikitin & Scott Baker, 2007. "Deterrence, Lawsuits, and Litigation Outcomes Under Court Errors," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(1), pages 57-97, April.
  9. Landeo, Claudia M., 2009. "Cognitive coherence and tort reform," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 898-912, December.
  10. Farmer, Amy & Pecorino, Paul, 2002. "Pretrial bargaining with self-serving bias and asymmetric information," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 163-176, June.
  11. Yasutora Watanabe, 2005. "Learning and Bargaining in Dispute Resolution: Theory and Evidence from Medical Malpractice Litigation," 2005 Meeting Papers 440, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  12. Drew Fudenberg & Jean Tirole, 1991. "Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061414, December.
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