Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Harm-Benefit Interactions

20 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2012 Last revised: 15 Oct 2013

Oren Bar-Gill

Harvard Law School

Ariel Porat

Tel Aviv University; University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: August 2013


In the standard tort case, the injurer-victim interaction results in harm to the victim. In this paper, we identify and analyze a distinct category of cases – Harm-Benefit (“HB”) cases – in which the injurer-victim interaction, results simultaneously in harm to the victim and benefit to the injurer (or to others). Indeed, in these cases the injurer affirmatively prefers to encounter the victim. In HB cases, which are quite common, standard results about the relative efficiency of different liability rules do not apply. When the benefit to the injurer exceeds the harm to the victim, liability should be imposed, whereas if the harm is larger than the benefit the case for liability becomes much weaker. These conclusions imply, counterintuitively, that it may be more important to impose liability on the non-negligent injurer rather than on the negligent injurer. We study the incentive effects of different liability rules, as well as the restitution rule, in HB cases. Our analysis also sheds new light on the law of takings. And it applies in certain contractual settings. More generally, we take the standard tort model, which focuses on one consequence of the injurer-victim interaction – harm to the victim – and expand it to include other consequences. We focus on benefits, but our framework can also be used to study harms, beyond the harm suffered by the victim.

Suggested Citation

Bar-Gill, Oren and Porat, Ariel, Harm-Benefit Interactions (August 2013). University of Chicago Institute for Law & Economics Olin Research Paper No. 588; American Law and Economics Review, Forthcoming; NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 13-27; University of Chicago Institute for Law & Economics Olin Research Paper No. 588. Available at SSRN: or

Oren Bar-Gill (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Ariel Porat

Tel Aviv University ( email )

Ramat Aviv
Tel Aviv 69978, IL
972-3-6408283 (Phone)
972-3-6407260 (Fax)


University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Paper statistics

Abstract Views