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The Unexpected Effects of Caps on Non-Economic Damages

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  • Álvaro Bustos

    (Escuela de Administración. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.)

  • Ronen Avraham.

Abstract

We study the economic and legal implications of the enactment of caps on noneconomic damages on parties in conflict who know that state supreme courts may strike down the caps as unconstitutional within a few years of enactment. We develop a simple screening model where parties have symmetric expectations regarding the probability of a strike down and asymmetric information regarding plaintiff's non-economic harm. Our model makes several surprising predictions: First, caps may increase the length of resolution of disputes if the caps are low enough or the probability of a strike down is large enough. Second, although caps always increase the percentage of disputes that are settled out of courts, they do not necessarily save litigation expenses. Third, while caps always reduce the recoveries of plaintiffs with large claims, caps may increase recoveries of plaintiffs with low claims compared to their recoveries in states with no caps. We conclude that to increase welfare legislators have to tailor caps to the economic and constitutional circumstances in their state in ways which we characterize in the paper.

Suggested Citation

  • 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..
  • Handle: RePEc:ioe:doctra:353
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    Cited by:

    1. Zhou, J., 2010. "Access to justice : An economic approach," Other publications TiSEM 9d70f451-35c4-4878-92bf-7, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    2. Landeo, Claudia & Nikitin, Maxim & Izmalkov, Sergei, 2012. "Playing against an Apparent Opponent: Incentives for Care, Litigation, and Damage Caps under Self-Serving Bias," Working Papers 2012-15, University of Alberta, Department of Economics, revised 01 Oct 2012.
    3. Helland, Eric & Seabury, Seth A., 2015. "Tort reform and physician labor supply: A review of the evidence," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 192-202.
    4. Paola Bertoli & Veronica Grembi, 2018. "Courts, scheduled damages, and medical malpractice insurance," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 55(2), pages 831-854, September.
    5. Claudia M. Landeo, 2018. "Law and economics and tort litigation institutions: theory and experiments," Chapters, in: Joshua C. Teitelbaum & Kathryn Zeiler (ed.),Research Handbook on Behavioral Law and Economics, chapter 9, pages 247-268, Edward Elgar Publishing.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tort reform; caps on recoveries; length of dispute resolution;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics
    • K20 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - General
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process

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