Fatal Accident Compensation – Bereaved relatives to receive more
Bereaved relatives to receive more. This is a very welcome and long overdue decision that will lead to Claimants in fatal accident cases receiving higher damages.
In the unanimous Judgment of ‘Knauer v Ministry of Justice’ it held that the method of using ‘multipliers’ for future losses in a claim under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 should now be calculated at the date of the trial rather than the date of the actual death.
In the above case the financial effects of the decision were to increase damages by more than £50,000 and in cases involving the death of high earners the effect will be even greater.
This was a major victory for Claimants as multipliers in fatal accident claims were brought in line with personal injury and clinical negligence cases after the Supreme Court reversed the 37-year decision of the House of Lords.
The decision means that for bereaved relatives, damages are no longer assessed on a less generous basis than those for injured Claimants.
As a result of the above case, damages are increased significantly in cases where the deceased had a well-paid job with a good pension or where the surviving dependants have a significant need for care and assistance, as in the case of Mr Knauer, following the death of his wife due to exposure to asbestos.
Prior to this case unfortunately there was a possibility of Claimants being under compensated in the vast majority of claims.
The Court highlighted that the existing approach using ‘multipliers’ chosen at the date of death meant that a Claimant was suffering a discount for early receipt of the money, when in fact that money was not received until after a trial or settlement. This resulted in an unfair outcome.
This is a very welcome and long overdue decision that corrects a well-recognised unfairness in the law and will lead to Claimants in fatal accident cases receiving higher damages in line with the overriding principle of full compensation. It is an important decision for all practitioners in fatal accidents and a very good outcome for Claimants.
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