What is a Lost Years Claim?

Lost Years and Fatal Accident Claims

This is where a living claimant following a serious injury (or a “fatal accident” that was not instantaneous) has had his life shortened by injuries and who seeks damages (compensation) for the pecuniary benefit he would have received during the span of life of which he has been deprived – the “lost years.” This is valid claim Pickett v British Rail Engineering [1980] AC (HL).

In short to avoid such legal jargon, a “lost years” claim is where the terminally ill claimant can claim for loss of earnings or income whilst still alive.  Whilst this is possible, there may be problems as the compensation payable to the living terminally ill claimant following a fatal accident may be less than if his dependents (usually next-of-kin) claim for fatal accident compensation following the death of the terminally ill claimant. This is due to some complex Statute Law and Judge made law.

There may be injustice to the defendant following a fatal accident, where compensation may have to be paid twice to beneficiaries of the deceased estate whose claim do not coincide with the dependents claim under the LRMPA and FAA. The claim for lost years under the former Act was abolished under s 4(2) of the Administration of Justice Act 1982 in the case of deaths after 31 December 1982.

Why A Lost Years Claim v Dependency Claim

A lost years claim following a fatal accident is mainly in relation to loss of earnings but it can extend to any pecuniary loss providing it is not too remote.  But if the living victim decided to claim compensation, the Defendant will want to deduct from any income the shared expenses that the victim would have had to pay in any event such as food bills, mortgage, utility bills etc.  The fatal accident claim solicitors will have to  take such expenses into account and deduct from the overall income the expenses to arrive at a lump sum compensation award.  The problem here is that the fatal accident claim solicitors will be forced, under current law, to deduct these expenses if a claim is being made whilst the terminally ill claimant whilst alive.

However, if the dependents of the deceased make a claim for the “lost years” element described above, the law, as a matter of principle, does not deduct any of those expenses and therefore, there is a probability that a lost years claim by a living victim may be less than if a dependency claim is made after the death of the victim.

This unfortunate issue is not lost on Defendant insurance companies who will try to negotiate and make offers of compensation to tempt a terminally ill claimant whose life has been curtailed by a fatal accident or suffers from a work related disease, for instance.  The problem is that a living victim would prefer to settle the fatal accident claim for compensation whilst alive for piece of mind rather than leave dependents to make the claim. This will ensure that the victim will be able to sort out the financial affairs before death and provide certainty for the dependents. Often this certainty comes at a price where the fatal accident compensation may be less than the dependents claim following death.

The fatal accident solicitors will by aware of the needs of the victim and ensure that all avenues and options are explored and the right decision for the victim is made.

Posted: February 27, 2014 at 8:22 am