Should the Value of a Statistical Life Be Part of a Wrongful Death Damages Award?
An attorney recently brought to my attention an article in The New York Times that discussed a concept known as the value of a statistical life (“VSL”). The article cited sources placing this value in the range of $5 to $9 million. The attorney was interested in knowing whether the notion of VSL could be used in wrongful death lawsuits as an element of compensation to the survivors of the decedent. Given that courts must make dollar decisions on various components of compensation in death cases, it is reasonable to wonder whether VSL affords a more “scientific” basis for such assessments. I wrote a mini-white paper explaining VSL, the various methods by which it has been computed, and opining on the appropriateness of introducing VSL into the courtroom. You can read that white paper here.
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