Claims by three members of the family of a man who died as the result of a road traffic accident in Glasgow have been awarded damages totalling £106,500.
Lady Wise, in the Court of Session, decided that the award of compensation in a previous similar case had been too low.
She set the damages level for each claimant by applying an uplift of approximately 50% on the awards in the previous case.
Pedestrian crossing accident
Gavin Currie was 25 years old when he was knocked down on a zebra crossing on 28 December 2011. He died in hospital 2 days later.
The Court described Gavin as a “fine young man with good employment prospects and a happy and settled family life”. He came from a close-knit family.
Only value of claim disputed
Liability for the accident was not in dispute but there was disagreement about the level of compensation to be paid to each of his parents and to his brother, Euan, by the insurers of the negligent driver.
Tension between Judge and Jury damages levels
The decision in this case was made by a Judge alone but set against a background of awards of damages in fatal claim cases made by Juries.
For many years, Juries consistently found claimants entitled to higher levels of compensation than Judges in fatal accident cases.
In 2012, the Court of Session – in a case decided by 5 judges, due to its importance – issued guidelines which were intended to narrow the gap between Judge and Jury awards and make the system more predictable.
The arguments for each side and the decision
The Q.C. for the Currie family argued that £65,000 should be awarded to each parent and £35,000 to Gavin’s brother. For the insurers, the suggested levels were £27,000 (per parent) and £18,000.
Lady Wise made awards of £42,000 each to Mr and Mrs Currie and £22,500 to Euan.
In her opinion, there were not enough relevant Jury awards post-2012 (when the guidelines were issued) for her to get any help from that source. On the other hand, the Judges in the 2012 case had expressed the view that previous damages levels set by Judges in fatal cases had “markedly undervalued” the claims.
Accordingly, she reached her decision by taking a particular pre-2012 Judge-made award in a similar (young adult) fatal claim, updating it for inflation and adding 50% of the total.
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Links you might like
Further developments in relation to compensation for relatives who have lost a loved one as a result of a fatal accident are reported in an article entitled: “Bereavement Damages at Record Level in Scotland“, on the Grigor & Young website.