Beneficial Victims

Ariel Porat
Oren Bar-Gill

In the standard tort case, the injurer-victim interaction results in harm to the victim. In this paper, we identify and analyze a distinct category of cases – beneficial victim cases – in which the injurer-victim interaction, results in both harm to the victim and benefit to the injurer. In other words, the injurer benefits from the presence of the victim. In these beneficial victim cases, which are quite common, standard results about the relative efficiency of different liability rules do not apply. When the benefit to the injurer exceeds the harm to the victim, liability should be imposed, whereas if the harm is larger than the benefit the case for liability becomes much weaker. These conclusions imply, counterintuitively, that it may be more important to impose liability on the non-negligent injurer rather than on the negligent injurer. We study the incentive effects of different liability rules, as well as the restitution rule, in the beneficial victim case. Our analysis also sheds new light on the law of takings.