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The Social versus Private Incentive to Sue

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  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

The private value of lawsuits is based on plaintiffs' expected recovery at trial compared to their filing costs, whereas the social value consists of the incentives suits create for injurers to invest in accident avoidance. Generally, there is no relationship between these two values: there may be either too many or too few suits from a social perspective. Thus, there is scope for corrective measures, although there is no simple policy. Extending the model to consider a negligence rule rather than strict liability, and to allow for pretrial settlements, leads to some modified conclusions but does not alter the basic insights.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas J. Miceli, 2008. "The Social versus Private Incentive to Sue," Working papers 2008-12, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2008-12
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nicola Gennaioli & Andrei Shleifer, 2007. "The Evolution of Common Law," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 43-68.
    2. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Yeon-Koo Che, 1991. "Decoupling Liability: Optimal Incentives for Care and Litigation," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(4), pages 562-570, Winter.
    3. Thomas J. Miceli, 2009. "Legal Change: Selective Litigation, Judicial Bias, and Precedent," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(1), pages 157-168, January.
    4. Shavell, Steven, 1997. "The Fundamental Divergence between the Private and the Social Motive to Use the Legal System," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 575-612, June.
    5. Lucian Arye Bebchuk, 1984. "Litigation and Settlement under Imperfect Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(3), pages 404-415, Autumn.
    6. Craswell, Richard & Calfee, John E, 1986. "Deterrence and Uncertain Legal Standards," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 2(2), pages 279-303, Fall.
    7. 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 1067-1097, September.
    8. Miceli, Thomas J. & Cosgel, Metin M., 1994. "Reputation and judicial decision-making," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 31-51, January.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Accidents; deterrence; lawsuits; litigation costs; social versus private value;

    JEL classification:

    • K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics
    • K40 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - General
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process

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