Judging Risk and Recklessness

W. Kip Viscusi

in Punitive Damages

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780226780146
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226780160 | DOI:
Judging Risk and Recklessness

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Risk judgments of various kinds are central to jurors' implementation of legal rules. Applying negligence criteria requires that jurors assess the adequacy of risk-cost trade-offs. Similarly, risk-utility tests, assessments of the adequacy of a product design, and similar matters all require that jurors be able to make sensible judgments once presented with appropriate risk evidence. Assessments of whether the defendant's conduct led to willful and reckless imposition of risks on others and consequently merit punitive damages likewise require that jurors be able to perceive the magnitude of the risk, determine how corporations and other defendants should have responded in that context, and evaluate the extent of the shortfall in the level of precautionary behavior. Making risk judgments lies at the heart of punitive damages criteria.

Keywords: risk judgment; recklessness; legal rules; risk-cost trade-offs; product design; punitive damages

Chapter.  5322 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Company and Commercial Law

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