09.10.15

Financial Impact of Loss of Life in a Personal Injury Claim

Posted in Wrongful Death at 3:26 pm by kevin

There are different kinds of damages that can be claimed involving the death of an adult in a personal injury claim. Most of the time, the most significant head of loss is financial dependency. This is where the partners and/or family members were partly or fully reliant on the income generated by the deceased.

Now, the key to correctly valuing a fatal accident claim that includes a dependency claim is the assessment of work and income potential and life expectancy of the deceased. Anyone who makes a claim (the claimant) has to prove that they depended on the income of the deceased, and that should the accident not have occurred, it’s most likely that the deceased would have lived and continued with working and producing income.

Then again, it’s not all the time that the deceased is one who would have worked until normal retirement age, lived until average old age or have the same pre-accident level of income. There are a number of cases where the ability of the deceased to provide for their dependents have been challenged, or in certain cases, be difficult to determine. Examples of cases like these are those involving people with health problems, a mixed work history or in the beginning stages of a professional career or running a business.

There are also cases where the dependents claim for dependency would be called into question. Let’s illustrate this with an example. Suppose a surviving spouse if afflicted with HIV and is seeking asylum in the UK where she is benefiting from the provision of retroviral drugs. However, the solicitors of the defendant can argue that her application for asylum has a chance to fail.

As a result, the spouse would go back to her home country which doesn’t offer quality HIV care, and as such, her life expectancy would be shortened as is her claim for dependency. Suppose an expert in HIV/AIDS in the claimant’s side was able to provide ample evidence that yes, with the right drugs, the spouse has a fighting chance to live. This will result in a failure of the defense and a win for the surviving spouse.

Let’s use another example to highlight different aspects of claiming. The husband of a claimant suffered a stroke the year prior to being killed in a road traffic accident. The husband was in his 50s and hadn’t been working the entire year, but held conversations with his employer before he died regarding the possibility of returning to work.

Now, if the husband had gone back to work and retired early because of his underlying poor health, this could shorten the dependency claim. But what if a court-preferred cardiologist is able to provide evidence that the deceased could have worked longer had the defendant given him credit for completely giving up smoking, taking his medication an performing exercises recommended by his doctor? A situation like this could result in something positive for the surviving spouse.

The takeaway here is that reliable and expert evidence that supports the length of the dependency claimed is so important in claims involving dependency. A deep look into the work and health history of the deceased, as well as their future plans is vital. In other words, a complete understanding of the deceased as well as their family is crucial in presenting the right claim.