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Compensation Claims: Smoking

In a recent blog I commented on the effect smoking could have on a compensation claim.I have yet however to come across a clever Defendant who has raised the issue of smoking as resulting in health impairment.It is perfectly possible for the Defendant to do so. I see no reason why the Defendants could say that my injured client has been smoking for the best part of 40 years, in addition they have had a very poor diet and therefore their life expectancy must surely reduce or to add a few years to compensate and the number of years over which I say we are entitled to claim a loss of earnings must surely therefore reduce as a result.This argument is of course fraught with pitfalls. Although we accept that smoking is likely to influence ones health, we do not know exactly how. We appreciate that some people can smoke for the best part of 60 years and live to a ripe old age and others smoke perhaps no more than 10 or 15 years and develop lung cancer when they are in their early 30s.We have not quite reached the stage where as personal injury lawyers, we are asking our injured person to provide a genetic makeup of whether they have a pre disposition to develop a smoking related illness or indeed even cancer or a life threatening condition itself. I for one would fear such a turn of events.It would mean that we would have to disclose personal information about ourselves and our family which I consider to be wholly unreasonable. Overall such a course of events would in my opinion, be considered by the Court to be far too intrusive.That does not mean however to say that this could not occur in the future.We are living in an ever changing world and who can say what might happen in 50 years where we are all holidaying on the moon and Defendant solicitors are asking for genetic profiles to be considered by an expert who is asked to comment when the injured person is likely to live until and whether there is any risk factors involved.In summary therefore, I suppose all we can do is watch this space.Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Russell Jones & Walker. If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, or email enquiries@rjw.co.uk and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.

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