Death of a Wife/Mother
Most of the above has concentrated on the principal breadwinner of the dependants following a fatal accident claim. The wife is normally a second source of income for the family, so this loss of income must be taken into account and more importantly, the loss of services the wife has gratuitously rendered the family.
The husband’s claim for dependency following a fatal accident is similar to the wife, in that an annual net money loss is calculated, taking into account the wife’s earnings and the cost of employing a housekeeper or other helper. This would include a sum, if necessary for any board and lodgings, additional school costs, etc. The next stage is to deduct any pecuniary gain that the husband might receive as a result of her death, such as those costs necessary in supporting his wife. The final stage is then to apply the multiplier.
However, the services of a mother to her children cannot simply be compensated by the employment of a housekeeper, a leading legal acedemic states:
“It may be argued that the benefit of the mother’s personal attention to a child’s upbringing, morals, education and psychology, which the services of a housekeeper, nurse or governess could never provide has, in the long run, a financial value for the child difficult as it is to assess.”
This statement has been approved in court in a fatal accident claim where it was said that the wife does not work fixed hours, she is on call constantly. The judge raised the value of the wife’s services from £12.50 to £20.00 per week (this was an old case decided in 1976). Guidance on the assessment of a mother’s services to a young infant can be found in the Court of Appeal’s decision 1988. In this fatal accident case a three year old girl was awarded £25,000 for the loss of her mother’s services following a fatal road traffic accident in 1979. Today this award willbe significantly higher.
In 1988 a Judge awarded a 12.5 year old child at the time of the accident £22,500 pa with a mulitplier of 5 a total of £112,500. A significant increase in the court’s award compared with the previous fatal accident cases at the time but one which appears to be the current trend.