On the other side of the coin of life, in tragic circumstances,
a lone woman fainted on the side of the highway as she lamented
her loss: her husband and sole breadwinner of the family.
He had been killed when a motor vehicle sped off the highway,
out of control.
The news reporter said a major lament from this woman was
that now, the duty of educating her children seemed to be
But one has to remain optimistic, even in the face of tragedy,
and rightfully so, because of third party liability insurance.
In T&T, the law requires that every vehicle in use on
the roads be covered by an insurance policy. It serves to
compensate the loss of innocent victims in motor vehicle accidents.
And while insurance can never return anything equivalent to
the value of the life that is lost, it does provide some relief
from the economic hardship that results.
A typical, private motor vehicle policy contract may carry
a limit in respect of death or bodily injury to any one person
up to a maximum of $2 million.
This represents the maximum that a representative, dependant
or the estate of the victim may claim, in typical circumstances.
In respect of a series of claims arising out of one event,
the typical maximum is $4 million. Such a claim may arise
as a result of hospitalisation, surgery and nursing home care.
In respect of on-the-spot emergency medical treatment, there
tends to be a ceiling for liability set at $1,000 per victim.
In addition, there is a typical liability for legal fees incurred
by the claimant, with a maximum in the vicinity of $10,000.
In assessing the compensation, for loss of life, for example,
there is a tendency, in certain places to attempt to equate
the quantum of money (liability) with the current monthly
earnings of the victims.
Claimants should bear in mind that every piece of work constitutes
earnings. Plus, the pension and gratuity entitlements need
to be considered.
Additionally, an equitable calculation of earnings should
be spread over what should have been the total remaining years
of earnings until retirement.
As a simple calculation, other things being equal: assume
a monthly income of $4000, which equates to $48,000 per year.
Assume that the individual would have worked for another 20
years; that equates to a minimum of $960,000.
In addition, one should factor in cost of living increases,
inflation, salary increases and other hardships. In effect,
the starting claim should be in vicinity of $1 million.
The argument should centre on life expectancy and longevity,
in the case of an innocent victim.
For the rest of us, we have to ensure that the laws that are
enacted are equitable ones, which cater to our long view.
I salute, the two stately women whom I saw swimming in the
ocean this week, and although they dont know it yet,
they are my new-found friends!