Most of us proclaim that we would never be able to put a value on a human life. That calculation, however, is done all the time with many different results. Now, you may be thinking I am discussing jury verdicts. Indeed, juries are asked to calculate the amount of pain and suffering to be awarded survivors in a wrongful death action. Actually, however, it is our government and corporations that have detailed calculations of the value of a life.
Take, the EPA for example, it now values a human life at 6.9 million dollars. Why does the government do this? It is part of an economic analysis measuring the costs of proposed regulations against the value of the lives it could save. Likewise, corporations will evaluate the cost of safety measures or the increased cost to produce safer products against the potential liability associated with a jury award in a product liability lawsuit. The EPA’s value of a human life is actually greater than the awards that most jurors provide for the death of victim in a wrongful death case. So next time you read about a million dollar award in a wrongful death suit remember there is a real economic basis underlying these claims.