Finding yourself in a position where a loved one has been killed as a result of an accident abroad that was not their fault must be one of the most harrowing experiences anyone can go through. A recent case at the Court of Appeal illustrates exactly how difficult it must be and emphasises the need for expert legal advice when attempting to obtain justice for the loved ones left behind.

In the case of Katerina Cox (widow of Christopher Cox, deceased) V Ergo Viersicherung AG (Formerly Victoria) (A company incorporated under the laws of Germany) (2012), the claimant, Katerina Cox was the widow of Christopher Cox who was killed in a road traffic accident in Germany.

Mr Cox was a member of HM forces, serving in Germany, when he was fatally injured by the negligent driving of a German driver. That driver was insured with a German insurance company. Katerina found herself in the difficult position of attempting to recover damages as a result of Christopher’s death. The argument in the Court of Appeal case was whether those damages should be paid in accordance with the law of England and Wales or German law.

The law in Germany is much narrower in terms of what can and cannot be claimed for after the death of a spouse. Under English law, a claimant can recover compensation for loss of dependency under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. However, in Germany, that loss is restricted to the compensation for loss of maintenance on a net basis, that is after mitigation of losses and taking into account the fact that a bereaved spouse may well go on to re-marry.

It seems extremely unfair that a British soldier, killed as a result of negligent driving, through no fault of his own, in a foreign country, should leave out who is restricted in how she can claim as a result of where the accident occurred. Indeed, this is a question that faced the Judges in the Court of Appeal in this matter.

Ultimately, it was decided that the damages that Katerina would receive should be assessed, as a matter of English law, in a manner comparable to that applicable under German law, to ensure that the damages were fair and that she did not become penalised as a result of the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death.

If anything, this case simply serves to remind us all that in times of great distress, where there are legal issues to be resolved, it is highly important that you have a legal team on your side who are experienced in dealing with complex matters relating to fatal accidents and who understand the plight of those left behind. Here at Jordans, we have an expert team who are experienced in dealing with fatal accident claims.

Should you find yourself in a position where you require expert legal advice on this or other matters involving personal injury the please do not hesitate to contact the Head of Personal Injury, Christine Sands on 0330 300 1103 or request a call-back
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