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The Limits of Formal Economics in Tort Law: The Puzzle of Negligence


Shawn J. Bayern


Florida State University - College of Law

March 8, 2009

Brooklyn Law Review, Vol. 75, p. 707, 2010
FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 346
FSU College of Law, Law, Business & Economics Paper No. 09-05

Abstract:     
This Article challenges the leading formal economic analysis of negligence rules in tort law. That analysis, which is meant both (1) to justify negligence rules over no-liability and strict-liability rules on theoretical grounds and (2) to provide a framework for understanding whether victims or injurers should bear the costs of an accident when both parties are innocent and have behaved carefully, is widely accepted by leading law-and-economics scholars, but its applicability is limited in several important respects.

Indeed, despite the common wisdom that tort law represents a triumph for the deductive economic analysis of law, tort law has resisted explanation through simple economic models. This does not mean economic reasoning is irrelevant to tort law, but it means that commentators should be cautious in accepting formal deductions about tort law. The purpose of this Article is to illuminate the limits of economic reasoning as a principled basis for tort law.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 46

Keywords: tort, negligence, law and economics, injurer, victim, bilateral precaution, activity levels

JEL Classification: K13

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Date posted: February 26, 2009 ; Last revised: February 25, 2013

Suggested Citation

Bayern, Shawn J., The Limits of Formal Economics in Tort Law: The Puzzle of Negligence (March 8, 2009). Brooklyn Law Review, Vol. 75, p. 707, 2010; FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 346; FSU College of Law, Law, Business & Economics Paper No. 09-05. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1349389

Contact Information

Shawn J. Bayern (Contact Author)
Florida State University - College of Law ( email )
425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States
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