Financial Loss in Fatal Accident Claims
19th Jan 2016
It is a sad occurrence when anyone is killed in an accident, but when that accident was avoidable and caused by someone’s actions or omissions, often a claim in damages can be pursued. This is an area of law which requires expert assistance and which has to be handled extremely delicately and with the utmost sympathy. To try and value someone’s loss by an award of damages is impossible and quite understandably can in itself cause additional grief and trauma to the surviving relatives. However, the award of damages is the means the law provides to compensate for a loss of life, where the death has arisen by an act or omission of someone else and part of that award is to provide a financial sum to compensate for the loss of both the financial dependency (often earned or pension income) that the deceased provided but also the non financial dependency (assistance with gardening, DIY and household chores for example) that was provided.
The issue the Supreme Court needs to decide in Knauer is whether the correct approach to calculating Fatal Accident Damages should be to allow all losses since death to the date of the assessment of the claim in full, without applying any discount and only discount for early receipt the losses occurring after the assessment, using the above approach, until what would have been the deceased assumed date of death if the accident had not occurred. This will then only discount for early receipt the dependency claim which, but for the Fatal accident, would not have at that time been received.
The approach being contended for in the case of Knauer has been a view expressed as more appropriate by many lawyers and legal commentators for many years and if applied would likely increase the overall value of Fatal Accident claims. As such lawyers will be looking for the outcome of this case as it may well effect many Fatal Accident Claims which are currently being investigated and it will be interesting to see if the Supreme Court take this opportunity to change the law on this issue.
Whilst the Supreme Court hearing is on the 28th January 2016, the final judgement may take a while to be handed down but this is a judgement which all personal injury lawyers will be looking out for with great interest.
Mark Hambling is a Director of Rogers & Norton, a Senior Litigator with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and handles Fatal Accident and Personal Injury Claims within the Rogers & Norton Personal Injury team in Norwich and Attleborough.
For more information please contact Mark Hambling on 01603 675611 or email email@example.com.