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Thomas v Kwik Save Stores Ltd

29 June 2000
The issues

Fatal Accidents Act – Assessing dependency of the claimant on the deceased

The facts

In 1995 Mrs Thomas who was 60, fell in the Defendant’s shop and broke her leg. A month later, having undergone surgery she collapsed and died from a pulmonary embolism. She had not been in good health prior to her accident. In the course of the months prior to the accident her condition had become progressively worse – she suffered from osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes and high blood pressure. She had been unable to walk very far and had been granted the mobility component of the disability living allowance at the higher rate. The Claimant had dealt with anything involving heavy work whilst the deceased had cooked, done general cleaning and helped in the garden. The matter came to trial and damages were awarded to the estate of £50,000.00 under the 1976 Act and £5,000.00 for the deceased’s pain and suffering.

The decision

This was a perfect example of one where the multiplier/multiplicand approach was inappropriate. The progress of her disabilities was entirely unpredictable. She might or might not have been able to continue to provide assistance in the house. On the other hand, she could have become a burden rather than a benefit to the Claimant. When assessing compensation the Court had to remember that it was carrying out an exercise in determining the financial and not the emotional dependency of the Claimant on the deceased. The award of £50,000.00 was far too high. The Judge had been effected by the fact that the Claimant had lost not merely services but a close and loving companion. These are not matters that the Court could award damages in respect of under the 1976 Act. An appropriate figure would be £20,000.00. The Judge had also seriously overvalued the award for pain and suffering which should have been compensation for 3 weeks. £2,500.00 was substituted

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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