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Bilateral Accidents with Intrinsically Interdependent Costs of Precaution

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  • Dhammika Dharmapala

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Sandra A. Hoffmann

    (Resources for the Future)

Abstract

The standard economic model of bilateral precaution postulates an interdependency between the care taken by injurers and victims that operates through the effects of each on the expected accident loss. This paper considers situations in which each party's precaution affects not only expected accident loss, but also directly affects the other party's cost of taking precaution. Generalizing the economic model of tort law in this way allows for a more complete analysis of when standard tort rules can and cannot induce optimal precaution. When this additional externality is introduced into a model of unilateral harm (where all accident losses are borne by the victim), none of the standard tort liability rules induces socially optimal behavior by both parties. Moreover, under a contributory negligence rule, the only equilibrium is in mixed strategies; this gives rise to the possibility of litigation in equilibrium. A 'tort-like' liability rule that induces socially optimal behavior by both parties is then characterized; this involves a payment by victims to non-negligent injurers whenever an accident occurs. The model is then extended to consider the case of bilateral harm (where both parties suffer accident losses). It is shown that, as long as both parties can sue to recover their accident losses, all negligence-based tort rules lead to socially optimal behavior by both parties.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2002-11.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2002-11

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  1. Kolstad, Charles D & Ulen, Thomas S & Johnson, Gary V, 1990. "Ex Post Liability for Harm vs. Ex Ante Safety Regulation: Substitutes or Complements?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 888-901, September.
  2. Shavell, S., 1986. "The judgment proof problem," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 45-58, June.
  3. Emons,Winand & Sobel,Joel, 1988. "On the effectiveness of liability rules when agents are not identical," Discussion Paper Serie A 212, University of Bonn, Germany.
  4. Kahan, Marcel, 1989. "Causation and Incentives to Take Care under the Negligence Rule," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 427-47, June.
  5. Hindley, Brian & Bishop, Bill, 1983. "Accident liability rules and externality," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 59-68, June.
  6. Arlen, Jennifer H, 1992. "Liability for Physical Injury When Injurers as Well as Victims Suffer Losses," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 411-26, April.
  7. Craswell, Richard & Calfee, John E, 1986. "Deterrence and Uncertain Legal Standards," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 2(2), pages 279-303, Fall.
  8. Schmitz, Patrick W., 2000. "On the Joint Use of Liability and Safety Regulation," MPRA Paper 12536, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Steven Shavell, 1984. "A Model of the Optimal Use of Liability and Safety Regulation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(2), pages 271-280, Summer.
  10. Steven Shavell, 2003. "Economic Analysis of Accident Law," NBER Working Papers 9483, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Leong, Avon K., 1989. "Liability rules when injurers as well as victims suffer losses," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 105-111, June.
  12. Arlen, Jennifer H., 1990. "Re-examining liability rules when injurers as well as victims suffer losses," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 233-239, December.
  13. Steven Shavell, 1983. "Liability for Harm Versus Regulation of Safety," NBER Working Papers 1218, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Hoffmann, Sandra & Schwartz, Warren & Dharmapala, Dhammika, 2001. "A Neglected Interdependency in Liability Theory," Discussion Papers dp-01-13, Resources For the Future.
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Cited by:
  1. Ram Singh, 2006. "On the Existence and Efficiency of Equilibria under Liability Rules," Working papers 150, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
  2. Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci & Eric Langlais, 2008. "Social Wealth and Optimal Care," EconomiX Working Papers 2008-34, University of Paris West - Nanterre la Défense, EconomiX.
  3. Tim Friehe & Eric Langlais, 2014. "On the Political Economy of Public Safety Investments," EconomiX Working Papers 2014-8, University of Paris West - Nanterre la Défense, EconomiX.
  4. Friehe, Tim, 2009. "Sequential torts and bilateral harm," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 161-168, June.
  5. Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci & Bruno Lovat & Francesco Parisi, 2014. "Loss-sharing between Nonnegligent Parties," Working Papers of BETA 2014-06, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  6. Tim Friehe, 2008. "On judgment proofness in the case of bilateral harm," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 26(2), pages 175-185, October.
  7. Nuno Garoupa, 2009. "Least-Cost Avoidance: The Tragedy of Common Safety," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(1), pages 235-261, May.

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