Compensation worth over half a million pounds, including periodical payments, awarded to blind widow.
We acted on behalf of Caroline, a widow whose husband had been negligently exposed to asbestos during the course of his employment with Halsen Insulation & Engineering Limited. As a result of the exposure, her husband Charles died from mesothelioma.
Caroline was blind as a result of a detached retina when she was in her twenties. She also had osteoporosis and suffered with back pain.
Before Charles was diagnosed with mesothelioma he would look after his wife's needs. Every morning he laid out her clothes before going to work. He also ensured that everything was in place for his wife when she came downstairs. He would, for instance, leave everything out ready for her to make a cup of coffee and prepare meals. He would also make a sandwich for her to eat at lunchtime and set out her medication. In the evenings he would make her an evening meal and tidy away afterwards and set out her medication again.
On his days off, Charles would spend more time preparing breakfast and lunch for his wife and would also see to all the household chores, such as hoovering, dusting, cleaning, laundry and cooking.
Charles would also take Caroline out about twice a week to go shopping or to the hairdressers, or simply for drive.
Charles also provided companionship for his wife. His presence in the home provided her with a sense of security and a great deal of social care. Without Charles, Caroline was completely confined to her home.
When Charles died, we arranged for Allied Healthcare to provide the practical care and assistance to help Caroline with her day-to-day activities and in running the home.
We also argued that although Caroline's practical needs were important, social isolation for people with sight impairment was a common problem and it would be necessary for Caroline to have some companionship in the evening.
We argued that as prior to her husband’s death Caroline had depended on, enjoyed and benefited from her husband’s company in the evenings and was reassured by his presence in the house, without this companionship, there was a potential to cause Mrs X to become more socially isolated and this could affect her self confidence, possibly lead to complications like anxiety and depression.
In addition to the care from Allied Healthcare, we arranged a Case Manager to be assigned to Caroline to provide a monthly review of her care needs, ensuring that the care agencies involved were responding to her needs. The Case Manager acted as the first port of call for the agency and provided emergency planning.
A few days before trial, the Defendants, who had fiercely fought the claim, agreed to pay Caroline £145,000 for the loss of her husband under the usual heads of claim in a mesothelioma case made under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 and the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.
However, uniquely in addition, we had made a claim for the loss of companionship and practical care provided by Caroline's husband prior to his death.
We made this claim on a periodical payments basis, i.e. a sum to be paid once a year for the remainder of the Caroline’s life to provide for the cost of practical care and companionship. It was agreed that the Defendants would pay the sum of £23,200 which is to increase on a yearly basis to reflect an increase in the annual earnings in line with the Annual Earnings Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE).
This is the first case in which periodical payments have been awarded in a fatal claim, i.e. to a person who did not actually suffer the injury, but who is a person who has been affected by the consequence of the negligence, i.e. the death of her husband.
This yearly sum will be paid to Caroline for the remainder of her life and as it is estimated that she will survive for over 18 years, her claim is therefore worth in excess of £500,000.
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