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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/128

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

suit. The principle surely conforms to the basis of computation applicable to the loss to society at large.

Damages cannot be given as a solatium. It is assumed that the bereavement of a party can not be soothed by an application of the coin of the realm, and the higher courts scrutinize the work of juries in order to eliminate the results of passion upon the part of the members thereof. Sympathy for the destitute orphan can have no part in the award of damages. This principle, also, conforms to the requirements in estimating the loss to society.

Nothing can be allowed for the injury to the deceased nor for physical nor mental suffering. Again appears a conformation to the conditions demanded by the social state. The loss of a mill operative in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is indirectly felt by the inhabitants of the State of Delaware, yet such loss is not greater by reason of the physical disfigurement of said operative nor the mental sufferings which he may have been obliged to undergo in the process.

Insurance of the life of the deceased is no mitigation of damages; this rule of the courts is absolute. It is considered that if the deceased was sufficiently productive to enable him to pay his annual insurance premiums, it is clearly in testimony of his thrift and an element in favor of his greater usefulness, therefore his greater value to the community. Here conditions in the estimation of loss to society are still further met. It matters little to the great mass of individuals whether that money, the measure of value, is put into circulation via the insurance companies or by the individual.

Standard mortuary tables are admitted in evidence, in awarding damages for wrongful death. Such tables apply to the whole community even more clearly than to the deceased. Whatever a man's station in society, his value is dependent upon, and modified by, his life expectancy. If this be short, the guarantee of his continued usefulness is less assuring than that of a man with the prospect of a longer life.

The whole matter, therefore, naturally and finally goes back to a question of fact for the jury or court, and wherever an accidental death has been effected, the deceased is measured by his productiveness. This productiveness is directly enjoyed by his family, his employer and his associates, and through them, sooner or later in an equal degree by society at large. Therefore the measure of pecuniary loss to said family becomes a measure of damage to society. It is reasonable to believe then, that awards by courts of law for death are a safe and trustworthy estimate of the pecuniary value of the life of the deceased. There are, of course, exceptions; justice has ever been perverted; but the great mass of cases taken together, forms a reasonable basis of estimation of the value of human life.