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The Kent Reporter carried a story yesterday that raised an important issue: how much are the lives of our parents, grandparents and great grandparents worth in a court of law?

A 97-year-old Renton woman died Thursday from injuries suffered in a two-car accident earlier in the day at the intersection of Southeast 200th Street and the Benson Highway in the Panther Lake area of unincorporated Kent.

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We’re living and remaining active longer than previous generations. And we’re driving into our 70s, 80s and 90s. Statistically, that means that more and more personal injury and wrongful death cases are going to involve older persons.

Since most older persons aren’t working, lost wages (and arguing impaired earning capacity) are not available components of damages. The focus needs to be on medical expenses, pain, loss of enjoyment of life, disability and disfigurement.

While rarely explicitly stated, insurance companies and defense attorneys take the position that older persons have lived the best years of their lives and really don’t have a lot left to lose. This bias–which is also present in some juries–needs to be overcome in order to get full and fair value for cases involving older citizens.

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