Jury Verdicts and the Dollar Value of Human Life

Posted: 28 Aug 2016 Last revised: 1 Sep 2016

Date Written: May 15, 2000


Most economic studies estimate the value of life to range from two to four million dollars. These estimates have served as a standard for governments and corporations in gauging the cost of safety, and for juries in determining awards for the loss of enjoyment of life. Better research on the value of life should give judges greater comfort in allowing economists to testify to such values. This study compares the value of life reported in the economic literature with the value of life implied by jury awards in drunken driving cases. The author uses regression analysis and the present value of impairment, to estimate how juries value life, and concludes that juries value life at $2.3 million to $4.9 million. While jury awards vary considerably, the regressions explained up to 50 percent of the variation in awards, providing further evidence that juries are rational in their deliberations on such matters.

JEL Classification: J200, K41, J17

Suggested Citation

Smith, Stan V., Jury Verdicts and the Dollar Value of Human Life (May 15, 2000). Journal of Forensic Economics, Vol. 13, No. 2, 2000. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2830560

Stan V. Smith (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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