It is a tragic fact that many people are killed in fatal accidents every year, leaving behind devastated families. They can happen in the workplace, on the roads or in major disasters.
Claims for Fatal Accidents
Pursuing a claim for compensation will not be the first thing on the minds on families who have suffered a tragic loss but the families’ financial needs will need to be addressed eventually. The rules for proving liability are broadly similar to a standard personal injury. There needs to be consideration of the negligence of the defendant and whether they breached their duty of care they owed when the death was caused. There will need to be consideration of the circumstances of the death and whether a death was considered reasonably foreseeable.
However there are complex rules which determine what can be claimed for arising from a death, and by whom. Broadly speaking there are three types of claim that can be made:
- A claim on behalf of the estate for financial losses such as funeral expenses and damage to any property (such as a car or a bike or car that was damaged) etc;
- A claim for bereavement compensation can be made by the wife or husband of the deceased, or the parents if the deceased under 18. The amount that can be claimed for bereavement is set by statute and is currently £12,980;
- Finally a claim can be made where the deceased has left people who were financially dependent upon him or her.
This is a statutory award which is paid to you if the deceased was your husband or wife or your child if they were under 18 at the date of the death. This is a capped award and currently stands at £12,980. It is important to note that this is separate to any other dependency claim that you are able to make and they won’t reduce any other compensation if you receive bereavement compensation.
Financial Losses Claim
Under the Law Reform Act 1934 the estate of a victim of a fatal accident are allowed to bring a claim for financial losses that the deceased would have made had they not died in an accident. So what would have been their personal injury claim becomes that of the estate. They can claim any medical expenses which were suffered prior to the death of the victim. They can also claim for loss of earning however unfortunately this will often be minimal especially if the death was very sudden as there won’t be a large interval in which the deceased suffered a loss of earning. If there is however a lengthy interval between the accident and the death then it could be more significant.
So like in any personal injury claim, the estate will need to retain all evidence to losses which they have incurred due to the injury.
A Dependants Claim
Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, dependants are allowed to bring an action for losses or compensation which is caused by a fatal accident.
Who is a dependant?
s.1 Right of action for wrongful act causing death
(3) In this Act “dependant” means-
(a) the wife or husband or former wife or husband of the deceased;
(b) any person who-
(i) was living with the deceased in the same household immediately before the date of the death; and
(ii) had been living with the deceased in the same household for at least two years before that date; and
(iii) was living during the whole of that period as the husband or wife of the deceased;
(c) any parent or other ascendant of the deceased
(d) any person who was treated by the deceased as his parent
(e) any child or other descendant of the deceased
(f) any person (not being a child of the deceased) who, in the case of any marriage to which the deceased was at any time a party, was treated by the deceased as a child of the family in relation to that marriage;
(g) any person who is, or is the issue of, a brother, sister, uncle or aunt of the deceased.
The dependants (depending on their links with the deceased) are able to claim for pain and suffering of the deceased, loss of income to the family dependants, funeral expenses, compensation to pay for services that the deceased performed (i.e. childcare and DIY etc) and probate costs.
These can be quite considerable. If the deceased was the main earner for a family which included children then the damages could rise to very considerable levels. There are no clear cut way to calculate to losses you could claim for but there are certain formulas that are used instead. They will take into account the deceased’s age as well as considering any future earnings and how they divided there earnings.
Fatal accident claims are complex, and should be put in the hands of an experienced solicitor. Our solicitors have successfully represented the families of people who have been killed in accidents.
In particular, our solicitors represented the widow and her family in what is believed to be the largest fatal accidents settlement in UK legal history to date, arising from the 1999 Ladbroke Grove/Paddington rail disaster.
Call us now
For expert advice on the application the law relating to fatal accident claims, please contact our professional team on 0800 014 8727. We will be more than happy to discuss the details of your case with you and advise you on whether we could deal with your case on a no win no fee basis. Alternatively fill out the form to the right and we will call you back at a time suited to you.