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Optimal negligence rule under limited liability

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Abstract

We study the standard economic model of unilateral accidents, in its simplest form, assuming that the injurers have limited assets.We identify a second-best optimal rule that selects as due care the minimum of first-best care, and a level of care that takes into account the wealth of the injurer. We show that such a rule in fact maximizes the precautionary effort by a potential injurer. The idea is counterintuitive: Being softer on an injurer, in terms of the required level of care, actually improves the incentives to take care when he is potentially insolvent. We extend the basic result to an entire population of potentially insolvent injurers, and find that the optimal general standards of care do depend on wealth, and distribution of income. We also show the conditions for the result that higher income levels in a given society call for higher levels of care for accidents.

Suggested Citation

  • Juan José Ganuza & Fernando Gómez, 2003. "Optimal negligence rule under limited liability," Economics Working Papers 759, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:759
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    1. Innes, Robert, 1999. "Optimal liability with stochastic harms, judgement-proof injurers, and asymmetric information1," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 181-203, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dari-Mattiacci, Giuseppe & De Geest, Gerrit, 2006. "When will judgment proof injurers take too much precaution?," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 336-354, September.
    2. Jonathan Yoder, 2008. "Liability, Regulation, and Endogenous Risk: The Incidence and Severity of Escaped Prescribed Fires in the United States," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(2), pages 297-325, May.
    3. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Accidents; limited liability and negligence rule;

    JEL classification:

    • K13 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Tort Law and Product Liability; Forensic Economics
    • K23 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Regulated Industries and Administrative Law
    • L51 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Economics of Regulation
    • H24 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Personal Income and Other Nonbusiness Taxes and Subsidies

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