A mother whose husband was tragically killed in a road accident three years ago says a £262,000 ‘dependency’ compensation payment has provided much needed long-term security and reassurance for her family.
The payment has been made after a legal case was pursued on her behalf by Hudgell Solicitors against insurers of the driver who caused his death.
The woman’s husband, 27, had been working on the side of a road when a driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed directly into him. He was rushed to hospital and died the following day as a result of the serious head injuries he suffered.
His wife, who has asked not to be named, says she initially didn’t want to make a claim for compensation, but said in time she realised it was her only option to ensure the best for herself and her family, with her two boys aged four and five at the time.
She was not working as she was a full-time mum given her children’s ages, and is now using the money from the legal settlement to buy her first family home of her own, having always previously rented. She also hopes to return to employment in the near future.
“When you lose the love of your life claiming compensation money is not something which really comes into you mind, and initially I wasn’t interested at all,” said the woman, 28.
“We’d only recently married and he was the love of my life.
“He was a wonderful father to the boys and when we got married we were on cloud nine. He was so caring, kind and fun and to be honest he did everything for me and the kids.
“We’d have been together forever, without any doubt, so to have someone like that taken away from you is completely heart-breaking. You don’t ever move on and forget, he is on my mind every day and always will be.
“In the early days after his death I didn’t cope at all and I needed my family just to help me get through. You try and put a brave face on things, especially when you have young children, so I stayed at my mum’s house for a long time before returning home and trying to return to some form of normality.
“Life is never normal again though. Life changes in an instant when you receive a telephone call like I did and you have to focus on doing the best for your family.”
Fatal Accidents law enables those who lose loved ones to claim ‘financial dependency’ damages
Solicitor Leanne Stephenson, a personal injury claims specialist at Hudgell Solicitors, says the thought of pursing compensation can often be a difficult one for people who lose loved ones in tragic circumstances.
However, under The Fatal Accidents Act 1976, dependents of people killed in accidents are able to make a claim for the loss of the financial support which they would have had from their partner’s earnings or pension.
“Quite rightly many people say to us that compensation can’t bring back loved ones and can’t change what has happened, and that is right, but it can have a massive impact on the future by covering the long-term financial support which has been lost to a family,” said Mrs Stephenson.
“If it can be demonstrated that those left behind had a ‘reasonable expectation’ of financial benefit, even if they did not have that benefit at the date of death, if it was expected that money would have been coming in for the family in years to come, it can be recovered.
“In many ways it may seem a very clinical system, but we find many bereaved people find it a huge relief when we explain that this financial burden is one we can lift from their shoulders at such harrowing times.
“In this case our client was obviously dealing with her own and her children’s grief, but had the added worry of the financial implications resulting from her husband’s death.
“We explained to her that a claim could be brought on behalf of her, and on behalf of her children, as they were all financially dependent upon him. In difficult times this does offer some relief as it is one less thing to worry about.”
Compensation includes bereavement damages payment
Alongside a loss of financial support, the law recognises that the sudden death a loved one also results in the loss of so much more to their family.
As such claims for loss of services can be made, which can include DIY, gardening and household chores amongst other things.
In addition a very limited number of close relatives can claim compensation for bereavement of £12,980, which was included in the compensation settlement in this case. This can only be claimed by a spouse or in the case of a death of a child under the age of 18, a parent.
The woman added: “Obviously, if I could I have a wish it would be to have my husband back by my side and with our family.
“Nobody wants to be in this situation and need to claim compensation for the loss of someone you love, but it has made me realise how important the compensation process is and why people should do it. You have already suffered enough.
“Leanne at Hudgells ensured the worry and stress of the situation was lessened. I never felt pressured into making decisions but at the same time I was kept updated and everything was carefully and fully explained to me.
“The outcome has been as positive as could be for my family given what happened.”