How do dependents claim compensation under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976

Prior to the 1976 Act, dependants had no ability to bring a claim for the loss they suffered arising out of the death of a relative. Until the Act, common law only provided for the person who directly suffered harm to make a claim for compensation.

Today, the Fatal Accident Act 1976 allows dependants of the deceased to step into the deceased's shoes and make a claim for the loss they have suffered.

Personal injury rules still apply

Fatal Accidents Act claims are brought against the person who caused the fatal injury. The usual criteria for establishing liability for personal injury apply. This means that you must show that the defendant was to blame for the incident, and that the incident resulted in the fatal injury.

All dependants wishing to make a claim must do so together. Dependants may not claim separately.

What expenses can be claimed?

Dependants can claim for three categories of expenses:

  • Funeral expenses paid for by the dependant
  • Statutory bereavement damages
  • Loss of financial support and services from the deceased, known as dependency

Dependency damages make up the majority of all compensation awarded under the Act. Strict rules apply as to who can bring a dependency claim, and what expenses can be claimed.

Making a dependency claim

As it's name suggest, dependency is a claim for the loss suffered by a person who relied on the deceased in some way. As such, only genuine "dependants" may make a claim. Eligible dependants under the act are:

  • the spouse or ex-spouse of the deceased, including civil partners and long-term cohabitees
  • a parent of the deceased
  • a child of the deceased, including stepchildren
  • a brother, sister, uncle or aunt of the deceased and their children

In each case, the dependant must have had a reasonable expectation of financial support from the deceased. Typically, that support takes the form of money brought into the household, but it can also include fringe benefits such as loss of a car, pension or child care.

How much compensation will I receive?

Parliament sets the maximum amount of statutory bereavement damages from time to time. Currently, the limit stands at £12,980. Only the spouse or civil partner of the deceased, or the parent of a deceased minor may make a claim for bereavement damages.

To calculate your dependency compensation, the Court typically will work out the financial value of the support given to the dependant by the deceased, and multiply that amount by the number of years the dependency would have lasted had the deceased continued to live. Calculations can be tremendously complex. Where there are multiple dependants, the Court will determine a fair way to split the compensation.

How did your injury happen?

The compensation claims process will depend on where and how your injury occurred. Click the icons below for more information:

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Chris Salmon, Director

Chris Salmon, Director