Parents can take comfort from the fact that, if they die as a result of someone else's negligence, the law will ensure that their loved ones are compensated. In one case, the disabled daughter of a woman who lost her life when a taxi in which she was travelling crashed received millions of pounds in damages.
The 47-year-old mother and her daughter, aged 18, were in the back of the cab when it was involved in a three-vehicle pile-up. The mother was fatally injured and the daughter sustained multiple fractures to both her legs, scarring and psychiatric injuries, including an adjustment disorder.
The teenager was particularly dependent on her mother because she suffered from a congenital condition which restricted her growth and rendered her autistic. She had no sense of smell, impaired vision and no awareness of danger. She and her mother had communicated by sign language and her mother's death had deprived her of her window on the world.
Her father, who held down a full-time job as a bank manager, had endeavoured to step into the breach left by his wife's death despite lacking her signing skills. Due to his efforts, his daughter's adjustment disorder had gradually resolved and, having achieved adulthood, she had been able to move into a flat of her own, receiving 24-hour professional support.
After the family launched proceedings, the cab company that employed the driver – who also died in the collision – admitted liability in full for the accident. Following negotiations, the company's insurers agreed to settle the claim for a lump sum totalling more than £4.25 million.
Of that sum, £300,000 was paid to the father to reflect his loss of dependency on his wife and the gratuitous care he had lavished on his daughter since the accident. A further £5,000 was divided between the couple's two sons, who had also reached adulthood since their mother's death.
A further sum was paid to compensate the daughter for her own injuries, but the vast majority of the settlement figure reflected her loss of dependency on her mother and will be used to fund her care regime for life. That part of her claim was based on the assertion that, had she lived, her mother would have continued as her primary carer until she was 80. The High Court approved the settlement.