Relative Fault and Efficient Negligence: Comparative Negligence Explained

37 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2010 Last revised: 11 Feb 2013

See all articles by Giuseppe Dari‐Mattiacci

Giuseppe Dari‐Mattiacci

University of Amsterdam; Tinbergen Institute

Eva-Susanne Hendriks

Amsterdam Center for Law and Economics

Date Written: December 3, 2010

Abstract

This paper shows that the rule of comparative negligence with relative fault --- a sharing of the loss proportional to the parties' relative departures from due care --- induces the parties to an accident to be efficiently negligent. Comparative negligence is more efficient than simple or contributory negligence regimes because it serves as a buffer against excessive due-care standards. If due-care standards are too high, comparative negligence facilitates efficient negligence, inducing parties to violate excessive due-care standards only when this is socially desirable. If due-care standards are too low, all negligence rules perform in the same way. Of all possible comparative negligence rules, relative fault provides for the sharing rule that maximizes this effect. The same principle also applies to the contribution rule among multiple tortfeasors.

Keywords: comparative negligence, legal errors, tort, relative fault, efficient negligence

JEL Classification: K13

Suggested Citation

Dari-Mattiacci, Giuseppe and Hendriks, Eva-Susanne, Relative Fault and Efficient Negligence: Comparative Negligence Explained (December 3, 2010). Review of Law & Economics 2013, Amsterdam Center for Law & Economics Working Paper No. 2010-13, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1719585 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1719585

Giuseppe Dari-Mattiacci (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Postbus 15654
1001 ND
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland 1001 ND
Netherlands

Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

Eva-Susanne Hendriks

Amsterdam Center for Law and Economics ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

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