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When to Start a Fight and When to Fight Back: Liability Disputes in the Workers' Compensation System

  • David Card
  • Brian P. McCall

Contrary to the original intention of no-fault workers' compensation laws, employers deny liability for a substantial fraction of on-the-job injuries. We develop and estimate a simple structural model that explains the high rate of litigation as a consequence of asymmetric information. We estimate the model using data for a large sample of back injuries in Minnesota. Simulations under the counterfactual assumption that all denied workers pursue their claims suggest that the strategic incentive accounts for 30%-40% of observed liability disputes. (c) 2009 by The University of Chicago.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Labor Economics.

Volume (Year): 27 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (04)
Pages: 149-178

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:27:y:2009:i:2:p:149-178
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  1. Alan B. Krueger, 1989. "Incentive Effects of Workers' Compensation Insurance," NBER Working Papers 3089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Cooter, Robert D & Rubinfeld, Daniel L, 1989. "Economic Analysis of Legal Disputes and Their Resolution," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 1067-97, September.
  3. Peter S. Barth & H. Allan Hunt, 1980. "Workers' Compensation and Work-Related Illnesses and Diseases," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number psbhah1980.
  4. David Card & Brian P. McCall, 1995. "Is Workers' Compensation Covering Uninsured Medical Costs? Evidence fromthe `Monday Effect'," NBER Working Papers 5058, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Kreider, Brent, 1999. "Social Security Disability Insurance: Applications, Awards, and Lifetime Income Flows," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(4), pages 784-827, October.
  6. Meyer, Bruce D & Viscusi, W Kip & Durbin, David L, 1995. "Workers' Compensation and Injury Duration: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 322-40, June.
  7. Price V. Fishback & Shawn Everett Kantor, 2000. "A Prelude to the Welfare State: The Origins of Workers' Compensation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fish00-1, July.
  8. Evangelos M. Falaris & Charles R. Link & Michael E. Staten, 1995. "Causes of Litigation in Workers' Compensation Programs," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number clwc.
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