‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ Relevant to Valuing £200,000 Fatal Accident Claim

In an era of apparently ever-increasing property prices, many young people rely on the so-called ‘bank of mum and dad’ to help buy their first homes. In a ground-breaking decision, the High Court took that into account in awarding the three dependent sons of a road accident victim more than £200,000 in damages.

The twice-divorced father was aged 52 and had a son, aged 22, and twin boys, aged 12, when he was knocked off his motorbike by a car, suffering fatal injuries. The motorist’s insurers admitted liability for the accident on his behalf but disputed the amount of compensation due to the sons. The Court was therefore required to assess the financial value of their dependency on their father.

In ruling on the matter, the Court noted that the father was a self-employed project planner in the building industry who earned in the region of £55-60,000 annually. It was apparent from the evidence that he was a loving and generous father who took an active interest in the lives of his three children. Although his oldest son was an adult when he died, he had only just left university and was still to some extent financially dependent on his father.

Noting the difficulties that young people nowadays face in climbing onto the property ladder, the Court found that the father would have contributed to the cost of buying his sons’ first homes. He would, amongst other things, have given them presents and paid towards the cost of their holidays, birthday parties and weddings if they chose to get married. He would also have paid regular maintenance in respect of the twins and funded their continuing education, including driving tuition.

The total award in respect of the sons’ loss of dependency on their father came to £203,741. The Court awarded a further £10,765 to the father’s estate to reflect the pain and suffering he endured before his death and various costs, including funeral expenses.