With an ever-increasing number of liability lawsuits, are corporations electing to play it safe rather than risk the uncertainties accompanying innovation? In The Liability Maze experts address the issues surrounding safety and innovation and present the most detailed and comprehensive study to date on the actual impact of U.S. liability law. In recent decades it has been widely assumed that liability laws promote safety by significantly raising the price companies must pay for negligence, product defects and accidents. More recently, others have suggested that the broad and unpredictable sweep of these laws actually deters innovation. The risks of lawsuits are so great that corporations are showing more caution in product innovation than ever before. The contributors focus on five sectors of the economy where the liability system appears to have had the greatest effects, positive or negative: the private aircraft, automobile, chemical, and pharmaceutical industries, and the medical profession. They suggest that in many sectors liability law has hampered innovation. In others it has stimulated safety improvements, although perhaps not so much as vigilant safety regulations.
Robert E. Litan is a senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution and vice president for research and policy at the Kauffman Foundation. Among his many books is Good Capitalism, Bad Capitalism, and the Economics of Growth and Prosperity (Yale University Press, 2007), written with William J. Baumol and Carl J. Schramm. Peter W. Huber is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and counsel to Mayer, Brown & Platt in Washington, DC.