Stan's Articles

Stan Smith's articles have appeared in numerous legal and economic publications. Click here to find downloadable PDF versions of these articles.

Measuring the Loss of Enjoyment of Life in Personal Injury Cases in Washington

Courts are increasingly recognizing the distinction between experiencing the pain and suffering of the incident itself, and the subsequent suffering from a disability caused by an injury. Legal views on the issue of loss of enjoyment of life are beginning to change, in part because of an economic model that places a dollar figure on the hedonic value of life — the pleasure or satisfaction we get from living.

Hedonic Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

Traditional measures restricted to financial damages significantly underestimate the pecuniary value of life lost in wrongful death cases. Economists distinguish between the hedonic attributes of life, which relate to the pleasure of being alive, and the monetary attributes of life.

Hedonic Damages: Measuring the Loss of Enjoyment of Life in Personal Injury Cases

Most people believe that the real reason we are alive is not only to work at home or in the marketplace, but also to experience the full value of the gift of life. Though, before testimony on hedonic damages was introduced in personal injury and wrongful death cases, juries struggled to determine fair and accurate monetary awards to survivors and/or their families.

More Suing Over Lost Joy of Life

Use of an economic model to fairly and accurately measure the value of lost enjoyment of life was once a hot topic of debate between plaintiff and defense attorneys. Coined “hedonic damages” by economist Stan V. Smith, the concept stirred great debate both for and against the use of an economic model to quantify the value of a person’s life — and especially upon the loss of enjoyment of life.

Damages for The Value of Life

More and more, courts and juries are agreeing that the value of life is not trivial. If a court finds that someone is responsible for an injury or the loss of a life, then the full value of that injury or life should be compensated. We all place a value on our lives, even if we no longer earn a living.

The Hedonic Value of Life: Economic Expert Witness Testimony in Injury and Wrongful Death

Society agrees that people have a value separate from their earning capacity. Without economic expert witness testimony to assist in hedonic damages cases, juries struggle to determine the monetary value of life with no explicit market price. Through such testimony, awards may become more predictable, leading to more settlements, less litigation, and hence, lower insurance premiums.

Hedonic Damages: Evaluating the Intangible Loss of Life and Limb

Can we quantify life’s value? It is the economist’s job to reveal the implicit price society puts on life based on extensive research. Many studies show that when the income component is known, the hedonic component can be shown. The hedonic damages model is a concrete measure of the value of life, separate from lost earnings capacity.

Hedonic Damages in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation

One of the more difficult tasks facing jurors is to place a dollar value on loss of enjoyment of life in wrongful death and nonfatal injury cases. Such losses have recently become known as hedonic damages. Absent economic testimony, ac hoc valuation methods commonly used by juries in place of accurate hedonic damages estimations rarely result in equal justice under the law.

Stan V. Smith, Ph.D.

University of Chicago-trained Economist and Financial Consultant

Dr. Smith and his team provide high quality strategies to educate a jury in economic valuation & analysis for fair awards.

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