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It is the common practice to introduce life-tables that the jury may be advised of the probable duration of the life of a person of the age of the deceased. But, after all, the amount of damages is largely a matter of conjecture. No estimate can be made of the probable illness, sickness and inability to secure employment, nor can it be ascertained therefrom at what period in the prospective life the infirmities of age will reduce the capacity for labor.
Beems, as administrator of the estate of Joseph Beems, deceased, seeks to recover damages of the defendant upon the alleged ground that the deceased, who was a brakeman in the employment of the defendant, came to his death by reason of the negligence of certain employees of the defendant in the management of an engine, while deceased was attempting to uncouple a car from the tank or tender of the engine. There was a trial by jury, which resulted in a verdict and judgment for the plaintiff for $ 2,500.
Did the trial court err in awarding substantial damages?
It was urged that there was no evidence of the probable life of the deceased. No life-tables were introduced in evidence, and it is claimed that without such evidence there was no proper basis for the computation of damages. The damages in cases like this never can be accurately estimated. The court do not think that the introduction of life-tables in evidence is essential to the recovery of damages. It did not claimed that the damages awarded to the plaintiff are excessive. The evidence shows that the deceased was twenty-five years of age, and that he was an active, industrious man, in good health, with a common education, and that at the time of his death he was earning from forty to forty-five dollars per month. These facts were sufficient to authorize an award of substantial damages; and, in the absence of the claim that an excessive amount was fixed by the jury, the verdict should be allowed to stand.