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By Robert D. Cooter & Ariel Porat

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Extra info for Getting Incentives Right: Improving Torts, Contracts, and Restitution

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Replacing the valve more often would cost more than the accidents avoided by doing so, and replacing the valve less often would cost less than the accidents avoided by doing so. Under a rule of strict liability, the caterer’s expected liability increases continuously as the delay between valve changes lengthens. A rational caterer would balance the cost of replacing the valve more often against the resulting savings in liability. By assumption, their marginal values equate at annual replacement of the valve.

If doctors internalize the risk of negligent treatment and externalize much of the benefit from successful treatment, then doctors often have an incentive to take excessive care. They engage in “defensive medicine,” such as favoring treatments with low liability risk for doctors even though the chosen treatments are worse for patients than alternative treatments with high liability risk. Tort theorists often think that the ideal assignment of liability is to internalize the harm from accidents.

30 JOURNAL OF LEGAL STUDIES 401 (2001). We hope that the ideas in the book remain crisp and enticing to you, the readers, who will judge the feast better than its cooks. Introduction Law should promote the wellbeing of people. 1 Contract law, called upon in a range of activities from renting an apartment to buying an oil field, should lubricate these transactions. 2 Restitution law, which mostly discourages people from using what belongs to others without their consent, should encourage people to supply benefits for others that markets cannot provide.

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Getting Incentives Right: Improving Torts, Contracts, and Restitution by Robert D. Cooter & Ariel Porat

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