Research Handbooks in Law and Economics series
Edited by Jennifer H. Arlen
Chapter 23: Alternatives and complements: Liability and regulation as remedies for physical injury
Complex societies have many objectives, the foremost of which is protecting individuals against bodily injury (here defined to include death) and property loss or damage. The purpose of this chapter is to explore how tort liability and direct government regulation can be combined to minimize losses, financial and otherwise, from these two sources. In its simplest articulation, the choices fall along two dimensions. The first is whether the intervention should take place prior to the occurrence of the harm, or only after it occurs. The first of these options operates from the ex ante perspective. The second relevant distinction is whether the remedy in question should be done through private action or by direct public regulation. This choice operates from the ex post perspective. It is easy to see how these choices can be arrayed in a two-by-two matrix, in which government regulation falls in the northeast quadrant and tort law falls in the southwest. The northwest box with injunctions and the southeast box with fines fill in the grid.
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