According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the value of the average American life has declined $1 million in the past five years and is now worth just $6.9 million.
Unlike the calculations made in wrongful death lawsuits, the calculations made by the EPA are based upon how much individuals are willing to pay to avoid risk and how much more employers must pay workers to encounter certain risks in their jobs. In California wrongful death lawsuits, the value of the case is dependent upon a number of factors including the deceased’s earning capacity and the loss of the care, comfort, solace and society of the decedent.
The concern over the devaluation, moral questions notwithstanding, is that government agencies use this figure when enacting regulations designed to prevent various harms. Traditionally, a cost benefit analysis is done to determine whether the cost of enforcing a regulation is worth the benefit of saving lives.