Court grants death damages to partner

The Federal Court has ruled that unmarried partners are entitled to compensatory damages after the death of their partner, overturning a decision by a Fribourg court.

This content was published on February 15, 2012 - 12:00 and agencies

In response to an appeal lodged by the partner of a man who was killed in a road accident in 2008, the country’s highest court formally recognised that a “free union” can also justify the right to such compensation.

The cantonal court of Fribourg in western Switzerland had rejected this right “out of respect for monogamy” referring to the fact that the deceased had been married to someone else.

The unmarried couple, separated from their respective spouses, had been living together for four years and were intending to get married after their divorces were arranged.

Noting that unmarried partners living together had become a relatively common way of life, the Federal Court ruled that the partner should be considered as a relative.

The couple had enjoyed a “close and harmonious relationship”, the court said. The insurance company of the driver found guilty of causing death by negligence has to pay compensatory damages to both the deceased’s wife and his partner.

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