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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Dhammika Dharmapala & Sandra A. Hoffmann, 2002. "Bilateral Accidents with Intrinsically Interdependent Costs of Precaution," Working papers 2002-11, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2002-11
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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. Dari-Mattiacci, Giuseppe & Langlais, Eric, 2012. "Social Wealth and Optimal Care," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 271-284.
    2. Friehe, Tim & Langlais, Eric, 2015. "On the political economy of public safety investments," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 7-16.
    3. RajendraP. Kundu, 2009. "Efficiency Of Liability Rules With Interdependent Costs Of Care," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 71-88, February.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Singh, Ram, 2007. "‘Causation-consistent’ liability, economic efficiency and the law of torts," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 179-203.
    7. Ram Singh, 2006. "On the Existence and Efficiency of Equilibria under Liability Rules," Working papers 150, Centre for Development Economics, Delhi School of Economics.
    8. Luppi, Barbara & Parisi, Francesco & Pi, Daniel, 2016. "Double-edged torts," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 43-48.
    9. Emanuela Carbonara & Alice Guerra & Francesco Parisi, 2016. "Sharing Residual Liability: The Cheapest Cost Avoider Revisited," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(1), pages 173-201.
    10. Friehe, Tim, 2009. "Sequential torts and bilateral harm," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 161-168, June.
    11. Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci & Bruno Lovat & Francesco Parisi, 2014. "Loss-Sharing between Nonnegligent Parties," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 170(4), pages 571-598, December.
    12. Ram Singh, 2016. "‘Full’ Compensation Criteria in the Law of Torts: An Enquiry into the Doctrine of Causation," Working Papers id:11237, eSocialSciences.

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