Compensation for “Wrongful Death” Increased!

In the Supreme Court (Formerly House of Lords) the UK’s highest Court in the land, has made a landmark decision that means more compensation for the wrongful death of victims who have died due to the fault of another, such as:

  • Death at work
  • Death following a road crash
  • Death following a disease at work such as – asbestos ingestion – mesothelioma
  • Death caused by medical negligence
  • Death due to a disaster, train, plain crash

What has there been a change in the law for fatal accidents?

The Supreme Court Law Lord led by Lord Neuberger, had considered all the arguments from the insurers for the Defendant and the bereaved family regarding the old laws which had governed how dependent families compensation award would be calculated due to the wrongful death of a loved one.

The Judges, after considering at length the awards made to these unfortunate families were of the view the calculations for fatal accident compensation awards were out-dated and needed to be re-considered in today’s more sophisticated times, which are much more different when the rules for compensation were first considered by the Courts.

The panel of judges, headed by Supreme Court president  ruled there was “an overwhelming case for changing the law” relating to the way financial losses of dependents are assessed.

High Court Judgement in 2014

The Supreme Court considered the previous judgement that was successfully appealed which awarded the bereaved family a lump sum award of £647,840 after making a claim for future loss of dependency under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.  Mrs Knauer, who was a mother of 3 contracted the fatal disease mesothelioma in 2009 when, during the course of her employment with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) at Guys Marsh Prison,

The fatal accident solicitors said, following the victory at Court:

“In future, multipliers which are used to calculate the compensation amount will be calculated from the date of trial, not the date of death.

” It will mean that all claimants will receive greater sums to compensate for loss of income and services.”

The Change in Calculations for future dependency awards for fatal accidents

This can be a little complicated but in simple terms the following calculations are that the Court must try, if at all possible, to compensate the victims (dependents) of the deceased to the extent that they have suffered “no financial loss.”  Naturally the compensation can never replace the loss of a loved one (but see bereavement award which we consider should also be changed).

What use to happen is that the Courts would find a value per year of what the financial loss would had been but for the accident, say £20,000.  This loss can be the deceased loss of earnings or other income.  It may include loss of a mother’s services, so need not be money alone.

This loss is called the “multiplicand.”

The next stage would be for the Courts to use the multiplicand and then calculate this figure for a future award to provide compensation for the future.  There will be various factors that the court will utilise to come up with a future award.  Thus in a simple example where the husband has died leaving a wife and dependent children, the courts will look at the ages of all concerned and divide the multiplicand between them over a period of years.  Here, for example the children’s dependency may cease when they reach the age of 21 years (now adult children) but the Wife’s (Widow’s) dependency could be life-long or at least until the deceased husband’s earnings would stop i.e. at retirement age.

This loss is called the “multiplier.”

The future compensation award is thus multiplicand x multiplier (number of future years following death)

The important word in the above statement is “death” because that is where the future calculations starts.  However this calculation will be different from the date of trial.  Using the latter date will mean that the compensation figure can be much greater particularly where it takes a long time for the solicitors to bring a case to court.  The Case is to complemented.

Posted: February 29, 2016 at 12:58 pm