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Fatal accident claim secures substantial award for family of elderly road accident victim

Posted: 30/11/2016

Pennington Manches’ personal injury specialists have settled a claim in excess of £125,000 following the tragic death of an 89 year old grandfather as a result of a road traffic collision.

While some relatives may be reluctant to make a claim following the death of a close family member, where it has left a surviving spouse with a loss of income, companionship and support at a time when housing and care costs are already high, compensation can go some way to filling, at least, the financial gap.

Under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934, a claim can be brought for, essentially, the estate’s losses including the cost of a grant of probate, funeral arrangements, a memorial or headstone and items damaged in the accident.

Items of loss tend to represent a relatively small proportion of the claim, however, with the majority of the claim falling under the provisions of The Fatal Accidents Act 1976. This can include:

  • a bereavement award which is fixed by statute at £12,980 for qualifying relatives
  • a financial dependency claim
  • a services dependency

In the recent case involving the elderly grandfather, although the victim had retired more than 20 years previously, a financial dependency could still be established because his income in retirement was greater than his wife’s income and this difference created a financial dependency on her late husband. This alone was in excess of £80,000. We were also able to establish a dependency claim for one of the deceased’s grandchildren who he was helping with school fees.

A services dependency can be established where the surviving spouse relied on his or her husband or wife to carry out every day services which can include cooking, gardening, managing financial affairs and other such activities. In this case the surviving spouse was in a care home where most of the usual services were already provided, but we were able to establish that taking his wife out for family functions and walks with the family dog amounted to services that would fall under the Fatal Accidents Act services dependency.

It is often a misconception that just because a couple are retired and rely on their pensions, a dependency claim is difficult to establish. Philippa Luscombe, a partner in the personal injury team at Penningtons Manches LLP, said: “Our experience is that the viability of a financial dependency or a services dependency can be identified very quickly. We have acted for a number of elderly clients who have been left on their own following the death of a loved one and have been able to obtain substantial compensation, ensuring that financial support is available at a time when it may be most needed.”

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP