Assessing the Insurance Role of Tort Liability after Calabresi
W. Kip Viscusi
Vanderbilt University - Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Vanderbilt University - Department of Economics; Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management; Vanderbilt University - Strategy and Business Economics
Vanderbilt University - Law School; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA); Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management; Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics
June 27, 2013
Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 12-35
Calabresi’s theory of tort liability (1961) as a risk distribution mechanism established insurance as an objective of tort liability. Calabresi’s risk-spreading concept of tort has provided the impetus for much of the subsequent development of tort liability doctrine, including risk-utility analysis and strict liability. Calabresi’s analysis remains a powerful basis for modern tort liability. However, high transactions costs, correlated risks, catastrophic losses, mass toxic torts, shifts in liability rules over time, noneconomic damages, and punitive damages affect the functioning of tort liability as an insurance mechanism. Despite some limitations of tort liability as insurance, tort compensation serves both a compensatory and deterrence role. Tort liability retains a valuable risk-spreading function in many situations and may be superior to alternative institutional mechanisms in fostering incentives.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 44
Keywords: tort liability, torts, damages, insurance, Calabresi
JEL Classification: K13, K0, I13
Date posted: December 14, 2012 ; Last revised: July 1, 2013
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