Determining the Value of Human Life in Georgia Wrongful Death Lawsuits


May 12, 2014

Determining the value of a human life is necessary when assessing the value of damages that will be awarded in a Georgia wrongful death case. The value of the life for damages purposes is looked at from an economic and non-economic standpoint. The length of the person's life and the income that a person could be expected to generate during his or her lifetime needs to be established by an attorney in the courtroom, to aid a jury in determining the economic value of future lost income.

The economic component of the value of one's life in a wrongful death lawsuit is based on both objective and subjective criteria that include the use of actuary tables to determine expected lifespan as well as economic analysis of lost future earnings based on one's earning history, employment experience, education and training. When the economic value of a life is analyzed, it is necessary to determine life expectancy and the potential earning capacity of a victim who has suffered wrongful death. Life expectancy is determined by the use of mortality rates that have been determined by actuaries. Different mortality tables are used in different situations, and mortality rates do not remain static but change over time in response to changes in society, health care, and the environment. The earning capacity of an individual focuses on the history of earnings by the person, age, educational achievement, health and general earning data of the population.

Other More Subjective Factors which Determine the Value of a Life

If a family is making a claim and the deceased is a single, unemployed person with no significant work history, then the value of that claim is going to be difficult to prove or may be calculated relatively low. The claim for lost earnings is difficult to predict if the deceased had limited real work history or uncertain potential for obtaining future earnings (in contrast to someone who may not have entered the work force yet, but was for example, in medical school). If the deceased was a gainfully employed, high earning individual with a spouse and children, then the survivors may have significant claims for the loss of their husband and father. The loss of that individual's future lost earnings could be substantial.

A jury that feels empathy for the deceased and his or her family also may award a higher verdict. Whether or not the jury perceives the deceased was a "good" or a "bad" person will also come into play in their valuation of the life of the deceased. These subjective factors mean that a Georgia wrongful death attorneys who is skilled in persuasive advocacy can make a significant difference in the outcome of a wrongful death verdict.

Another factor that can affect the valuation of a life in a wrongful death case is the location of the trial and the particular judge and jury that hear the case. This is certainly not a complete discussion of all of the factors that constitute a calculation of the value of human life in a Georgia wrongful death case. Further, this discussion is simplified for the purposes of clarity. What readers should take away is that the process of valuing human life and proving that value requires a skilled experienced Georgia Wrongful Death Attorney. Additionally, if those situations where there may be some potential to settle the case out of court, these same factors must be competently and completely addressed in negotations in a similar manner.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 30 Years of Experience to Work For You

Our Atlanta wrongful death attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been representing those who suffer serious injuries or wrongful death for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.