Fatal accident compensation claims - A guide

Compensation will not be foremost in the minds of the bereaved, but urgent financial support may be needed to help with funeral arrangements, living expenses and to safeguard the long term financial security of dependants.

Building a robust case for a compensation claim is one area that can be handled both compassionately and efficiently by a specialist solicitor.

The following article discusses the fundamentals involved in making a compensation claim following a fatal accident. For more information, Quittance offer a free consultation to discuss your options and advise on the best way to proceed.

Couple talking to solicitor

Fatal Accidents Act 1976

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 is the legislation under which close relatives can claim compensation for the death of someone involved in a fatal accident, where that accident resulted from the negligence or wrongful act of another party.

Claims can be pursued under the act in the following categories:

Dependency claims

Often the largest part of awarded damages, this sum is awarded to those who were dependent on the victim's income; this may be a partner or children and the amount will depend upon their income.

The compensation award may also consider any employment-related benefits provided by the deceased, including future pension loss, a company car, healthcare benefits, mobile phone usage and other allowances.

The law allows any 'Dependant' to seek compensation for any losses resulting from a fatal accident.

A Dependant may be a:

  • parent of the deceased
  • child of the deceased, including adopted and stepchildren
  • husband, wife, or civil partner of the deceased
  • ex-husband, wife, or civil partner of the deceased
  • co-habiting partner who was effectively living as a husband or wife of the deceased for 2 or more years before their death
  • brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece or nephew

Bereavement Award

Bereavement expenses can also be claimed. In March 2013 the statutory bereavement award was increased by 10% from £11,800 to £12,980.

If multiple parties are claiming the statutory bereavement sum, e.g. two parents, then the amount is divided equally.

Bereavement awards will be payable only to the wife or husband of the deceased, or the parents of the deceased if the victim was under the age of 18, never married and was living at home.

The bereavement award is paid in addition to the dependency award.

Financial Support

Compensation can also be sought for any loss of financial support that the dependants would have received had the relative not died. This compensation takes the form of payments made by the Department of Work and Pensions. These payments are complex and subject to change.

At the time of writing, benefits include a bereavement payment, a bereavement allowance and a widowed parents allowance. A solicitor will be able to advise further and we recommend that you contact your local benefits office for more information.

Funeral Expenses and actual financial losses

Actual financial losses may include items such as caring for the injured person before death, funeral expenses and other administrative costs associated with the estate.

In cases where a period of time elapses between the accident and the death, considerable costs may be incurred, such as the cost of adapting a home to be suitable for care, nursing help, medical treatment and travel costs.

Compensation for any loss of services usually provided by the deceased such as car repair, DIY or decorating may be claimed for, in the form of 'dependency for services'.

Compensation following a criminal act

If the death was a result of a criminal act then a claim can be made against the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). CICA is only able to pay compensation to immediate family, i.e. children and parents. Other relatives including siblings cannot claim.

Can a solicitor help with an inquest?

Often after a fatal accident there will be an inquest to determine the cause of death. The process will include the collation of evidence and documents obtained from the coroner or police. The inquest may be inconclusive and further detailed investigations may take place in order to determine whether the death was the fault of another party.

A solicitor can help by guiding guide you through this process and representing you at the inquest.

Fatal accident claims advice

The panel of solicitors have significant expertise in working with bereaved family members to secure the best possible compensation settlement.

Claims for fatal accidents occurring at work and on the roads have been successfully pursued. Medical accidents and negligence such as mistakes made by surgeons or anaesthetists, or incorrect medication doses or prescriptions have also been brought.

If you have any questions at all, or would like to discuss your options in more detail, a member of Quittance's panel of specialist solicitors is available for a confidential consultation. Call us on 0800 376 1001 or arrange a callback at a more suitable time for you.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor