Defining Efficient Care: The Role of Income Distribution
This article examines whether the wealth levels of injurers and victims in accident cases are relevant for the determination of efficient tort rules. When the standard of efficiency is wealth maximization, it is well known that the answer is no. In this article, we consider whether this is also true when utility is not linear in wealth. We show that when actuarially fair insurance is available and income can be redistributed by mechanisms other than tort liability, efficient care levels and damage awards are independent of wealth in this case as well. When independent redistribution mechanisms do not exist, however, then whether wealth matters depends on the assumed distribution of accident costs in the definition of efficient care. These conclusions have important implications regarding the admissibility of evidence regarding a defendant's wealth in tort cases. Copyright 1995 by the University of Chicago.
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