Accidental Death and the Rule of Joint and Several Liability

39 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2009 Last revised: 13 Aug 2010

See all articles by Daniel N Carvell

Daniel N Carvell

Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics

Janet Currie

Princeton University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

W. Bentley MacLeod

Columbia University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: October 2009

Abstract

Reforms to the Joint and Several Liability rule (JSL) are one of the most common tort reforms and have been implemented by most US states. JSL allows plaintiffs to claim full recovery from one of the defendants, even if that defendant is only partially responsible for the tort. We develop a theoretical model that shows that the efficiency of the JSL rule depends critically on both whether the care taken by potential tortfeasors is observed, and on how the actions of the potential tortfeasors interact to cause the harm. We then provide evidence that reforms of the JSL rule have been accompanied by reductions in the accidental death rate in the U. S. This result is consistent with the hypothesis that the reform of JSL causes potential tortfeasors to take more care.

Suggested Citation

Carvell, Daniel N and Currie, Janet and MacLeod, William Bentley, Accidental Death and the Rule of Joint and Several Liability (October 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15412. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1486548

Daniel N Carvell

Columbia University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics ( email )

420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Janet Currie (Contact Author)

Princeton University ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States
6092587393 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.princeton.edu/~jcurrie

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
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William Bentley MacLeod

Columbia University - Department of Economics ( email )

420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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