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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

Despite the adoption of no-fault Workers' Compensation legislation in most states, there is substantial litigation over the issue of employer liability for injury claims. We develop a sequential asymmetric information model of liability disputes and estimate the model using data on injury claims from the state of Minnesota. The key insight of our model is that when workers differ in their costs of pursuing a injury claim, employers have an incentive to deny liability and force those with higher costs to abandon their claim. Likewise, workers who expect a bigger return from pursuing their claim are more likely to fight back when liability is denied. Estimates of the structural model confirm that the decision rules of both parties depend on the expected costs and benefits of continuing the dispute. The model provides a parsimonious but relatively successful explanation for the distribution of liability disputes across different workers and types of injuries.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w11918.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11918.

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Date of creation: Jan 2006
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Publication status: published as David Card & Brian P. McCall, 2009. "When to Start a Fight and When to Fight Back: Liability Disputes in the Workers' Compensation System," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 149-178, 04.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11918
Note: LS
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  1. Alan B. Krueger, 1990. "Incentive Effects of Workers' Compensation Insurance," NBER Working Papers 3089, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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, August.
  3. Bruce D. Meyer & W. Kip Viscusi & David L. Durbin, 1990. "Workers' Compensation and Injury Duration: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," NBER Working Papers 3494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. 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, June.
  7. 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, June.
  8. 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.
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