Accidental death and the rule of joint and several liability

Daniel Carvell, Janet Currie, W. Bentley Macleod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Most U.S. states have enacted JSL reform, the move from a regime of joint and several liability (JSL) that allows plaintiffs to claim full recovery from any one of multiple defendants to one where defendants are held liable only for the harm they cause. Contrary to previous theoretical work, we show that JSL reform can increase precaution by judgment proof agent by giving "deep pockets" an incentive to reduce their own liability by bringing judgment-proof agents into court. This result can help explain our empirical findings showing that JSL reform reduces death rates (and hence increase precaution) for many types of accidents. Together, these results highlight the role that litigation costs and judgment-proof agents play in the functioning of the American tort system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-77
Number of pages27
JournalRAND Journal of Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics


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