Assuming that the premium I does reflect the EVL and the premium is used as a proxy for B, the result may be sufficient, but does it result in an ‘efficient’ level of investment in care? It will never be perfect—all estimates are less than perfect. However, the burden, B, is just one component of the formula and the other factors are outside the party's control. Further, these processed claims provide the industry with a continual stream of information about the probability curve surrounding the liability variable, L, of the Learned Hand formula, which permits continual updating of EVL. To his credit, Posner (1998, p. 222) recognizes that insurance premia can affect activity levels of potential injurers. It neglects some important considerations that necessarily enter into the calculation of B. This standard analysis is fundamental to all law and economics texts discussing the Learned Hand formula, see, e.g. Of course, the remaining 50% probability is important as well. A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few; as we have learned to our sorrow. Consider the case of a government regulation requiring the installation of airbags in automobiles.41 This requirement was generally expected to lead to an overall reduction in the cost of harm, not by reducing the probability of accidents but by reducing the resulting harm.42 Essentially, such government regulation induces others to invest in technology that will reduce the liability component of the Learned Hand formula. If judges or juries cannot accurately compare these risks and costs, they may be unable to assess liability in a way that induces efficient behaviour. It is one reason why the insurance industry would not charge the fair premium that would correspond directly to the EVL.38 Since the insured knows her own level of risk, she will be more likely to indulge in risky behaviour knowing that the value of an accident will be completely covered. NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION (, Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. Where the injurer or victim supposedly has this incentive, i.e. the case of Vaughan v. Taff Vale Ry. Sections 261.147 and 265.147. Now and then, one comes on a man who has made of his life a work of art, like a novel written by himself. 403) (arguing that homeowners in disaster prone areas lack the interest to adopt loss-reduction measures). Surprisingly, however, scholars have overlooked one of the most important salutary functions that insurance serves for the tort system: it provides much of the information that courts need to apply the marginal Learned Hand formula in negligence cases. 1860). This is what we call the Hand rule below, using the conventional 5In … 179–235). Simply put, it was not cost justified to invest in the device to prevent gas-tank ruptures and ensuing fires when the estimated cost of prevention, B, of $11 per vehicle greatly exceeded the estimated cost of the harm, PL, which, before the Grimshaw case was settled, was only $1.23 Clearly, the $11 per vehicle investment would have an impact on the plaintiff's injury and is certainly cost justified in that extreme case. the expected value of harm. Nor do they know the likely harm should an accident occur. pedestrians). It is not simply that L is uncertain, but the possible values of L are completely random. This paper assumes a law and economics perspective on negligence. This market differentiation and segmentation is far from complete, however. If there is only a slight variance of the L factor, then the formula will still tend towards a convergent solution. to pay the cost of avoiding the accident or pay the damages, the insurance company merely collects the premiums from all, injurers and victims alike, and then in the event of claims, redistributes the proceeds between the two. 223–225). If PL exceeds B, then the defendant should be liable. For simplicity, we assume that the increments of care do not change L, which in this case is highly uncertain regardless of the level of care chosen. Should defense lawyers and prosecutors be appointed as judges? For a court to base a determination of liability in negligence cases, insurance data may provide the most solid foundation. But again, it means that the numbers are imprecise and require an understanding of where in the cycle the market is at the moment, and therefore whether the numbers should be scaled up or down with respect to the burden a defendant should have been expected to bear. The court can stand on the premium as a baseline datum that, absent defenses for insufficiency, constitutes a reason to impose liability on him. It should be noted that each P and each L mathematically represents a discrete point on a continuum. The large variance tends to create the non-convergence of the formula. These data do not solve the dilemma of the Learned Hand formula, but they can provide a starting point, a partial solution to a problem that would otherwise remain unsolved. Consider the classic strict liability case of Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Co.,17 where Ford decided not to invest in a device to prevent the gas tank of a Ford Pinto from rupturing and exploding after a rear-end collision. But in many (if not most) cases, insurance provides the best information available. Foreseeability in torts is crucial to the calculation of the defendant's burden, but without considering the function of insurance, the court's situation is highly problematic because the courts often fail to account for the individual injurer's and victim's inability to foresee the consequences of their actions when establishing liability. An insurance firm gathers the data it believes narrow the uncertainty surrounding the probability of any given type of accident and its likely cost in terms of harm. In three other cases, $1 would have been insufficient but $11 would have sufficed. For example, the plaintiff in Vaughan was well aware of his potential injury—the destruction of some or all of his forest—but he might not have known the potential harm others, e.g. In effect, high transaction costs impede individuals from seeking information on the strength of this relationship. The Learned Hand formula is an algebraic formula (B = PL), according to which liability turns on the relation between investment in precaution (B) and the product of the probability (P) and magnitude (L) of harm resulting from the accident. The equilibrium would be stable. That is, the non-negligent party as well as the negligent party can insure against the potential loss of the accident. Since the potential injurer and victim cannot know the potential liability factor, L, they cannot select the socially efficient level of care, B. This information, while clearly of great value, does not identify the specific range of harms or the factors that might make one sub-group of insured, e.g. Note that we emphasize the Hand rule for negligence of the defendant, which is the standard usage in the law and economics literature on torts. This implies that an individual will invest in care in some, but not other, situations to avoid liability. A solution to the informational problems lies in markets where potential victims and injurers, as well as the courts, can gain some insights into valuations of both the probabilities and the liabilities of accidents (i.e. plaintiff complained and on attraction, judge Hand defined, The right scope of liability as Discovered, learned, found out. Because any given individual may fall randomly across the probability distribution, insurance market information may lead some people to spend too much on precaution and others to spend too little. The important point, however, is that the determination of negligence will not provide an incentive to increase the investment in care, B, in subsequent cases because making liability dependent on elements not known to the parties when they choose their actions cannot affect their behaviour (see Kaplow & Shavell, 1996). After relaxing the assumption that the level of liability is known, the Learned Hand formula no longer appears as a socially maximizing function with a stable equilibrium solution. In that case, premium rates might well be distorted, and especially problematic as a proxy for B in malpractice cases. That is, Congress expected insurance companies to impose their own regulatory restrictions on hazardous waste facilities, in addition to federal government regulations. Learned Hand Rule is a Calculus of Negligence; it checks that whether the legal duty of care has been breached. The insurance industry internalizes the problem of extreme liability situations and spreads it among the insured. See, e.g. The Learned Hand Rule, and discuss the economic logic . PL, than to pay for a measure of prevention, i.e. In one part of the cycle, insurance companies will drop premium rates in order to gain market share. This illustrates the case where, given the assumption that EVL = I = B, the static equilibrium will be stable at $65, and B can be determined at negligible administrative cost by the court. Some concept of Economics of Law are Adverse Possession, Calabresi and Melamed’s Rule, Coase’s Example, Cost of Private Negotiations, General Equilibrium, Inefficient Performance, Public and Private Goods, Punitive Damages. P and L should actually be represented as Li and Pi, where i ranges from 1 to n. The question is which P and which L are selected from the range of values? According to Judge Richard Posner, the Learned Hand formula has ‘greater analytic than operational significance’ because ‘the parties do not give the jury the information required to quantify the variables that the Hand formula picks out as relevant’.5 Consequently, juries are ‘forced to make rough judgments about reasonableness, intuiting rather than measuring the factors in the Learned Hand formula’.6. 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