After a fatal accident, what compensation can the estate and dependents claim?

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In the event of a fatal accident resulting from the negligence of a third party, it will fall on the estate to pursue legal action. What can an Estate claim for, and what is the process?

The Estate

The 'estate' is defined as all of the property, money and assets belonging to the deceased.

Grant of Probate

If the deceased left a will, then the executors of the will acquire a 'Grant of Probate.

Grant of Probate is the legal process involved in administering the estate of a deceased person. The process can involve handling and resolving all disputes and claims and overseeing the distribution of the assets of the deceased in accordance with the Will.

What Can the Estate Claim?

Claiming compensation following a fatal accident is covered by 2 key Acts of Parliament which are:

  • Law Reform Act 1934
  • Fatal Accidents Act 1976

Under the Law Reform Act 1934 the estate can claim compensation for:

  • property damage - this includes any damage to property or assets resulting from the fatal accident
  • funeral expenses - the majority funeral cost can be claimed although certain things such as food or flowers may not be covered
  • damages for pain and suffering - for example pain suffered between the date of the accident up to the death of the person
  • losses sustained between the date of the accident and the date of death

Who would receive the compensation?

If a will was made, those named as beneficiaries in the will would receive the compensation. This will be divided by the executors of the will.

If no will was made, the compensation would be awarded to those who are entitled according to the intestacy rules.

What are the Intestacy Rules?

The rules of intestacy determine who is entitled to the assets if there is no will in place or if a will is proven to be legally invalid. The victim of the fatal accident, in this case, will often be referred to as having died 'intestate'.

Intestacy rules state that the estate goes to the married or civil partner of the deceased in the first instance, even if separated informally.

If the estate is worth more than £250,000, the married or civil partner will receive this along with all personal possessions. Surviving children will then receive half of what remains.

If a property was jointly owned between a married couple, the entire value of the property goes to the surviving partner and the rules apply to singularly owned assets and monies of the deceased.

Legal help and clarification

The rules of intestacy can often become muddied where there are complicated family situations. It is usually wise to seek legal advice to clarify matters.

See also:

Fatal accident claims

What happened?

The claims process will vary depending on how your injury happened. Click the icons below to learn more:

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Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor