We often hear about people tripping on a grape or other such fruit in a supermarket and then claiming damages. However, many cases are based upon life threating injuries which can leave the victim as a ‘cabbage’ – or worse.
We recently had a case where a 67 year old driver was run over in a customer’s yard. The customer accepted full liability but his insurers argued for a minimal pay out because of the driver’s age. We were able to show that his employers had undertaken to employ him until aged 75 because his wife was crippled and chairbound and, as a result, entirely reliant on his earnings. The insurers eventually paid out £125,000 in compensation.
In another case, an individual was accidently hurt by a block and tackle and rendered a ‘cabbage’. Using his earnings, together with his growth in earnings for the previous 5 years, we were able to convince the courts that a lump sum of £5 million was not reasonable.
When the West Drayton rail crash occurred, most of the passengers were breadwinners and so compensation claims would be based upon their earnings, together with a review of the growth in their earnings and the degree of injury.
It is our experience that all too often, claimants settle for too low a compensation figure – partly because the insurers have no concern for the victim and his or her loss of capacity or earnings, and partly because by ‘holding out’ they can force the claimant into accepting a lower offer because of their financial difficulties.
It is important to not only review a victim’s earning, but also their lifestyle and business and social development over the preceding years, as this can materially affect the level of compensation payable. If their lifestyle is sedentary and earnings steady, and the injury minor and inconvenient, then the compensation will be adjusted for inconvenience.
If, however, they were active with earnings growing considerably and the injury had curtailed both their activities and their earning capacity, then the compensation will take account of the anticipated loss of earning for the rest of their life, together with compensation for the loss of mobility.