Offsetting Benefits

46 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2014 Last revised: 27 Oct 2014

See all articles by Ariel Porat

Ariel Porat

Tel Aviv University; University of Chicago - Law School

Eric A. Posner

University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: February 14, 2014


There are numerous areas of the law in which the victim of a wrongdoing has the right to obtain damages that compensate her for harm. When the wrongdoing also creates a benefit — either for the same victim or for a third party — a question arises as to whether the damages should be reduced to reflect that benefit. The law is unclear, and courts frequently act inconsistently. We argue that courts should deduct the benefit when it is not offset by another harm to a third party, and would not have existed but for the wrongdoing. We also argue that courts need to take into account the effect of deductions on victims’ and beneficiaries’ incentives to take care, and that measurement difficulties and other complex causal issues provide a basis for denying deductions in many cases.

Suggested Citation

Porat, Ariel and Posner, Eric A., Offsetting Benefits (February 14, 2014). 100 Virginia Law Review 1165 (2014); University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 675. Available at SSRN:

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


Eric A. Posner (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0425 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)


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