Answered by Christopher Combs in Wrongful Death on April 01, 2021.

Following the sudden, wrongful death of a family member, you may be thinking about filing a lawsuit against the party (or parties) responsible for their loss. However, it’s entirely understandable that you are not sure of exactly what their wrongful death is worth, and how much you could potentially receive in a wrongful death lawsuit. Putting a monetary value on a human life is incredibly difficult, after all, and trying to quantify the exact amount your loved one’s presence was worth to you can be an emotionally devastating experience.

The St. Louis wrongful death lawyers at Combs Waterkotte have years of experience working with their wrongful death clients not only to provide them with emotional support and communication during this tough time, but also ensure that they get the best possible settlement for their wrongful death claims. Call them today at (314) 900-HELP or contact them online for a complimentary consultation.

How Much Is A Life Worth?

While American courts define the value of a life as officially “priceless”, in wrongful death lawsuits a judge or jury is the sole arbiter of the numerical or monetary cost of someone’s life. However, a number of insurance companies and government agencies have determined rough values for a life, which are accepted by courts and corporations as standard figures.

The insurance industry has adopted what is called the “dialysis standard” for the value of a year of human life. This value is set based on medical treatment: insurance firms calculate that if a new procedure or treatment is worth paying for, it must guarantee a year of “quality life” for $50,000 a year or less. However, economists at Stanford University have updated this standard, and determined that due to factors like inflation and adjusting costs, that yearly value is now much closer to $129,000 a year.

Other governmental bodies have also made their own value judgments regarding what a life is worth. The US Department of Transportation, for instance, released guidance in 2016 that said that a life is worth $9.6 million. The statistical value of a life also decreases with age, since it is based on future earning potential.

Judging Wrongful Death Settlements in Missouri

In the state of Missouri, juries are asked to “fairly and justly compensate a plaintiff for any damages they sustained and is reasonably certain to sustain in the future as a direct result of the fatal injury to the deceased” as part of a wrongful death lawsuit. As such, juries take into consideration a large number of factors when determining a wrongful death award or settlement, such as:

  • Past, present, and future lost wages
  • Medical bills
  • Funeral costs
  • Pain and suffering of surviving family members
  • Loss of companionship/consortium damages

Every wrongful death lawsuit is unique, and the loss of a young father in a car accident has much different considerations to be made than, for example, the sudden death of a grandmother due to medical malpractice. Having a skilled St. Louis wrongful death lawyer to investigate your case and argue on your behalf, as such, is critical when it comes to putting a value on the life of a loved one.

Get Help Today From A Wrongful Death Lawyer

If you have recently lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, contact a skilled wrongful death lawyer at Combs Waterkotte today. Call us at (314) 900-HELP or fill out our online contact form. Our initial case reviews are always free, and our firm promises that we will not charge you a fee unless we get you a favorable result.


Wrongful Death