The concerns of the elderly are increasingly underestimated and undervalued. Sadly this applies in personal injury and clinical negligence claims as in other areas of life. The main areas of concern are:
(1) Damages for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life (commonly known as General Damages). It is often heard from Defendants solicitors/insurers that an elderly person should receive less as they have fewer years to live and therefore less time to endure their suffering. This cruel and wrong . All years are precious but the elderly are aware that they may have less time and the sense of loss is therefore greater. Further, the younger have an ability to adapt to their injuries and to live their lives around a disability, the elderly do not have the luxury of time to allow such adaptation to take place.
(2) The often (if not usually) held view that when considering future care needs the elderly would need care sooner rather than later in any event. This may be true but we all know people who live their lives in a manner suited to those 20 years or so younger than their actual age. I am frequently beaten at tennis by a lady in her 80s and the suggestion that she would need care any time soon would be met with outrage – and quite rightly so. Again, assumptions are made about the elderly which are unfounded and are made in an attempt to reduce the damages to which they are entitled.
It takes little imagination to appreciate the level of distress caused by injury to the elderly but it is a huge shame that so many, when paying compensation, seek to minimise the amount due to them. As solicitors, it is our job to give a voice to those who are often reticent, or too polite, to secure a settlement which properly reflects their loss.