How to Claim Compensation for a Fatal Accident

Author:
Matthew Clayton
Partner, Serious Injury Solicitor
Date:
25/09/2019

You may be able to claim compensation for the death of a loved one in a fatal accident that wasn’t their fault, to help you cope with the loss both materially and emotionally. A compensation settlement can help you cover immediate expenses such as funeral costs and general living expenses if you were financially dependent on the deceased.

You can claim either on behalf of the deceased person’s Estate or by making a fatal accident dependency claim. We may be able to deal with the claim on a No Win, No Fee basis. Our Personal Injury Solicitors can talk you through your various options, to help you achieve the best outcome.

We understand that making a fatal accident claim can add extra stress at what’s already a very difficult time, but we’ll handle your claim sensitively and help you throughout the whole process.

For free legal advice get in touch with our Personal Injury Solicitors.

Call us on 08002605010 or request a callback and we will help you.

Making a Fatal Accident Dependency Claim

If the deceased made a major financial contribution to the household, their surviving relatives can find themselves under huge pressure if that is suddenly taken away. In this situation, you can make a claim under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, so you get the extra financial support you need following the sudden loss of a loved one.

You can claim for any of the following:

      • Bereavement Award - This will reflect the emotional impact of the loss of a loved one in a fatal accident, rather than the financial consequences of their sudden death. A husband, wife or civil partner of the deceased can receive a flat rate of £12,980 – as can a parent if the deceased was under 18 at the time of their death.
      • Dependence for Financial Support - If you were financially dependent on the deceased, you may be able to claim for compensation on this basis if they died in a fatal accident. You’re eligible to claim on these grounds if you are the surviving spouse or civil partner of the person who has died, or if you’ve cohabited with the deceased for at least 2 years. Under 18s and young adults (such as students who are getting parental support at university) who depended on the deceased’s financial support may also claim on this basis.
      • Loss of Intangible Benefits - The financial impact of a loved one’s sudden death is rarely the main focus of those left behind. As they adjust to life without the deceased, they will first have to get used to living without what the law describes as “intangible benefits”, such as the personal attention and affection they offered. While these can’t strictly be calculated in monetary terms, the loss of intangible benefits can still be considered when a fatal accident compensation settlement is being worked out.
      • Dependency for Services - If the deceased performed many vital tasks at home, such as domestic chores and general home maintenance, those left behind can find themselves with lots of additional pressures and burdens. However, this too can be considered in a compensation claim following a fatal accident.

You can also claim for the pain and suffering a loved one had to suffer from the time of the accident until they died if they didn't die instantly in the accident.

Claiming on Behalf of the Deceased's Estate

Those who weren’t reliant on the deceased for financial support can often be overlooked following a fatal accident. However, it may be the case that the person’s death still has a huge short-term financial impact, even if you weren’t married, in a civil partnership or the deceased’s child.

For instance, you may have been cohabiting with the deceased and find yourself responsible for arranging their funeral. When in this situation, the costs can soon start to mount up, from the cost of the funeral itself, to flowers, a gravestone and arranging food and a venue for a wake.

You may therefore be able to request compensation on behalf of their Estate, so you get the additional financial support you need.

How Fatal Accident Compensation is Calculated

The amount of compensation you receive depends on the nature of your relationship with the deceased. So if the claim is being made by a surviving husband or wife, a compensation settlement will be calculated by assessing the couple’s joint income and subtracting the contribution that would have been made by the deceased.

If the claim concerns children, the compensation sum is likely to be higher, as it’s likely to be the case that a larger share of the deceased’s income will be spent on the family rather than themselves. A fatal accident compensation settlement will also look at any investments made by the deceased and interest on their earnings across a normal life expectancy.

The non-financial consequences of the loss of a loved one, as described above, will then be factored into the settlement, and a sum calculated to cover all these factors.

Can I Obtain Interim Payments?

If you have immediate financial pressures, such as funeral expenses, as a result of the loss of your loved one, and you can’t wait for a final settlement to be agreed, we can push to secure Interim Payments before a Court Hearing.

Will I Have to Go to Court?

Not necessarily. A fatal accident compensation settlement will usually be offered before the actual Court date, and we’ll negotiate with the other party on your behalf to ensure you receive a fair amount of compensation. If a settlement isn’t offered, we’ll take your civil claim to the Courts and present your case to a Judge.

For free legal advice call our Personal Injury Solicitors

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