Insurers or their solicitors often submit that damages for elderly accident victims ought to be reduced to take into account their advanced age, presumably on the basis that elderly people will suffer pain and disadvantage for a shorter period than younger people. They often recite the New South Wales Court of Appeal decision in Reece v Reece.
That’s probably fair enough for accident victims who are actually quite old. However it is not unusual for insurers to submit that accident victims as young as 60 ought to have their damages reduced, because of age.
These submissions can be offensive, particularly to older Judges.
In the matter of French v QBE  QSC 105, Fryberg J assessed damages based on the deceased’s life expectancy at the time of death. I am attracted to his comments at page 258:
“The vehicle defendants submitted that the allowance for loss of domestic services should be calculated on the basis that the services would cease at age 70. That was justified on the ground that it gave ‘due recognition to the advancing years of the deceased in reducing his ability to perform such services’ and to an allowance for contingencies. Perhaps that submission should have been saved for a younger Judge. There is no evidence to suggest that Mr Crouch would have descended into decrepitude at 70 and ageist assumptions are anathema. I adopt the approach of the taxi defendants and will allow the claim for the balance of Mr Crouch’s life expectancy at the time of his death (49.3 years).”
If an elderly relative of yours has been injured in an accident in which they were not at fault, they may be entitled to compensation. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation, please call Stacks Goudkamp on 1800 25 1800, or alternatively make an online enquiry.
Written by Tom Goudkamp.