Costs of hospice care could be recovered as part of claim relating to asbestos exposure Drake and Starkey v Foster Wheeler Ltd 5.8.10.

The Claimants were the daughters of Thomas Wilson who died in 2007 from mesothelioma or lung cancer, which he contracted as a result of his exposure to asbestos when he worked for the Defendant in the early 1950s as a boiler erector at Dartford power station. Liability was not in dispute. Part of the claim related to 22 days care he had received at St Joseph’s Hospice prior to his death which, on the basis of the annual running costs of the hospice, were claimed at £10,021.

Held

The sum claimed was awarded. The Judge stated “The principle governing the recovery from tortfeasors for this head of recovery is that the injured claimant may recover the reasonable value of gratuitous services rendered to him by way of voluntary care as compensation to the carer for providing such care.”

Comment

As the Judge commented, the type of claim that was made for hospice care was novel, but recovery was consistent with established principles and it was unlikely that there would be a significant number of claims in the future. Defendants and insurers should be aware however that, in cases where hospice care is linked to an illness or injury caused by their acts or omissions, a precedent has been set that the costs of this will be recoverable.