Quote of the Day “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” –Warren Buffett
For three days last week and this, TB was involved in settlement negotiations over the death of a 93 year old lady at the hands of a construction company truck driver who was unable to control his vehicle due to excessive speed. The driver braked as soon as he saw her, skidded the length of a football field, began to drift, and killed this lady who made it six inches off the road and into her driveway, but needed another couple of feet to get clear. The company and their insurer were clearly liable.
I can’t reveal the amount of money that was at stake. But I can say a couple of things without violating the confidential terms. First, though I was well aware of the “value” of these cases–to be distinguished from the value of her life–it was depressing and even shocking to hear the other side articulate their position. I read recently that the EPA was being criticized for lowering their calculation of the value of a life to 6.7 million dollars. It was around 8 million at the end of the Clinton Presidency. They had earlier tried to assign a discount to people over age 72, but retreated from that position due to numerous objections. I can tell you the value of a person who has been killed is much less than that in a civil lawsuit in Mississippi, and for a senior citizen it is a fraction of that amount. In fact, our state has seen fit, at the behest of insurance companies and ill informed, misguided and/or corrupted supporters to cap the value of such a case. I don’t know how to put a dollar value on any person’s life, at any age. I do believe when someone is needlessly and recklessly killed, the negligent party should have to face the question in court.
Here’s something I’d like someone to explain to me: If a maximum damage cap makes things more fair in some people’s opinions by preventing “jackpot justice” or a “runaway jury”, shouldn’t there also be a minimum dollar amount a life is worth?