Wrongful Death and Valuing a LifeThe “value of life” in any wrongful death case is an economic value used to quantify the benefit of avoiding a death. It is also referred to as the cost of life, value of preventing a fatality, and implied cost of averting a fatality.
In economics, there is no standard concept for the value of a specific human life. When looking at the risk and reward trade-offs that people make with regard to their health, however, economists often consider the “value of a statistical life.” The value of a statistical life is very different from the value of an actual life: it is the value placed on changes in the likelihood of death, not the price someone would pay to avoid certain death.
In May of 2019, two economists developed an objective method of valuing a “statistical life, detailed in research entitled “The Value of a Statistical Life,” by Thomas J. Kniesner and W. Kip Viscusi. In their paper, they placed a current value of “around $10,000,000.” There are government reports commissioned by Congress that placed the value of human life in the range of $5,000,000 to $8,000,000.
Unlike a statistical or economical analysis, Arizona juries are empowered to determine compensation for the survivors’ losses in wrongful death claims. Arizona Revised Statutes Section 12-613 does provide guidance, that the jury “shall give such damages as it deems fair and just with reference to the injury resulting from the death to the surviving parties who may be entitled to recover . . . .”
For example, as stated in the case of Girouard v. Skyline Steel, Inc., the survivors’ damages are assessed by determining what the decedent’s “death means from the standpoint of the survivor who must be compensated.” 215 Ariz. 126, 130, ¶ 15, 158 P.3d 255, 259 (App. 2007).
An experienced attorney who actually tries cases in front of a jury understands how to gather the vital evidence, persuasively tell the decedent’s and survivors’ stories, and help the jury understand who and what the survivors have lost. Not every attorney goes to court or knows how to fight on behalf of wrongful death claimants.
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Contact us as soon as you can to schedule a free consultation with a wrongful death specialist who can explain Arizona law and your rights. Give me a call at (480) 833-1113 and let’s talk about your case.
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