Girlfriend and wife to get payout in landmark case

A landmark ruling determined on Wednesday that the unmarried partner of a dead person may be entitled to damages for pain and suffering, even where the deceased was already married to somebody else.


The deceased was a man who had been killed in a motorcycle accident. He had lived with his partner for four years at the time of his death, although both he and his partner were married to other people.

The cantonal court found that compensation should only be awarded to the deceased’s wife “out of respect for monogamy”.

But the Supreme Court overturned this decision.

The court found it important instead to take account of developments in society and to recognize cohabitation as a “relatively widespread lifestyle,” newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported.

The Supreme Court determined that a cohabiting partner could be considered “close” under the terms of the Swiss Civil Code when evaluating people affected by a death.

The court noted that the pair had lived together for four years, and that they intended to marry one another once the divorces from their respective spouses had come through.

Consequently both the deceased man’s wife and his partner are now entitled to receive compensation, although how much each will get has yet to be decided.


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