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Accidental death and the rule of joint and several liability

Author(s): Carvell, Daniel; Currie, Janet M.; MacLeod, W. Bentley

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Abstract: Most U.S. states have enacted JSL reform, the move from a regime of joint and several liability (JSL) that allows plaintiffs to claim full recovery from any one of multiple defendants to one where defendants are held liable only for the harm they cause. Contrary to previous theoretical work, we show that JSL reform can increase precaution by judgment proof agent by giving “deep pockets” an incentive to reduce their own liability by bringing judgment-proof agents into court. This result can help explain our empirical findings showing that JSL reform reduces death rates (and hence increase precaution) for many types of accidents. Together, these results highlight the role that litigation costs and judgment-proof agents play in the functioning of the American tort system.
Publication Date: Mar-2012
Electronic Publication Date: 28-Mar-2012
Citation: Carvell, Daniel, Currie, Janet M., MacLeod, W. Bentley. (2012). Accidental death and the rule of joint and several liability. The RAND Journal of Economics, 43 (1), 51 - 77. doi:10.1111/j.1756-2171.2012.00158.x
DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1756-2171.2012.00158.x
ISSN: 0741-6261
Pages: 51 - 77
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: The RAND Journal of Economics
Version: Author's manuscript

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