Our Guide to Understanding Fatal Accident Claims

Posted on: 14 mins read
Amy Baker

Graduate Solicitor Apprentice

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Losing someone you love in a fatal accident can be catastrophic for the lives that are left behind. It can be emotionally and economically draining, especially if you were financially reliant on the deceased. It can be a complex and time-consuming process to claim for a loved one after their passing, but here at Simpson Millar, we can help you every step of the way.

Fatal accidents are sadly extremely common, and in the last few years we saw the following statistics:

Not every accident that results in a fatality will be the fault of a third party but, when it is, you may be able to claim compensation for your loss.

What is a Fatal Accident?

If you’ve lost a family member or friend in an accident - whether it was at work, in a public place, or a result of a road accident - starting a claim for compensation is not likely to be the first thing on your mind.  You may be overwhelmed by the idea of the whole claims process, especially when you’re grieving. However, making a claim for compensation can give you and your family the financial security you need.

In some cases, people who provided the main family income may not have had preparations in place to provide for their loved ones. At Simpson Millar, we completely understand that making a fatal accident claim can add stress, especially when you’re dealing with grief and loss. That’s why we’re here to handle your claim as sensitively as possible, walking you through the whole process with help and advice along the way.

A compensation settlement can help you cover immediate expenses such as funeral costs and general living expenses if you were financially dependent on the person who has died.

You can claim either on behalf of the deceased person’s Estate or by making a fatal accident dependency claim.  At Simpson Millar, our team of Personal Injury Solicitors are here to walk you through your different options, so we can help you get the result you deserve.

How to Make a Fatal Accident Dependency Claim

If you were in the same household as the person who passed away and they contributed significantly to your joint earnings, you’re probably worried about how you’ll be able to stay financially afloat. This can make an already stressful and emotional time even worse.  If you’re suffering with  financial pressures, it’s worth looking into making a claim under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. This will ensure you and your family get the extra financial support you need following the sudden loss of a loved one.

If you’re claiming under the Fatal Accidents Act, you can claim for 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 person can receive a flat rate of £15,120 – as can a parent if the person was under 18 at the time of their death.
  • Dependence for Financial Support - If you were financially dependent on the person who has died, 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 them 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 person’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 you adjust to life without the person who has died, you will also be coming to terms with living without what the law describes as “intangible benefits”, such as the personal attention and affection they offered. While these cannot 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 person performed many vital tasks at home, such as domestic chores and general home maintenance, you may be left with lots of additional pressures and burdens.  But, this can be considered when you’re claiming compensation for a fatal accident.

You can also claim for the pain and suffering a loved one had to experience from the time of the accident until their death.

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How Can I Make a Claim on Behalf of the Estate?

People who weren’t financially dependent on the person who passed away can sometimes be overlooked after a fatal accident. But 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 person’s child.

For instance, you may have been cohabiting with them and find yourself responsible for arranging their funeral. When this happens, you could see the costs starting to mount up quickly.

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

Can I Claim Compensation After a Loved One Dies?

If a loved one has died due to the negligence or actions of another person, you may be able to claim for compensation under the Fatal Accidents Act.

Spouses, civil partners, parents, children, siblings and cohabiting partners are all entitled to make a claim for someone else who has passed.

It’s important to note that the law around this area can be complicated, so you might be confused as to whether or not you can make a claim, and how much compensation you could get. That’s why, at Simpson Millar, our Fatal Accident Compensation Solicitors are here to help yourself and your close ones get to grips with the next steps in your journey towards making a claim.

Sometimes, coroners are told about deaths resulting from fatal accidents, and they then have to decide whether to carry out an inquest. It’s their job to get to grips with the facts surrounding what happened to your loved one – but this process is different from a compensation claim or a criminal investigation.

If needed, we’re happy to talk to the coroner for you, and if there is a hearing for the inquest, we can provide you with representation.

At the end of the day, compensation is there to help you cover the costs associated with your loved one’s passing in both the short and long term – it can also help you with finding closure after their accident.

When it comes to the short term costs, compensation can help you cover funerals costs and other concerns. In terms of the long term, the compensation you receive can give you the financial support you need.

Financial Support Options

Sudden death in a fatal accident can cause immediate financial problems at home, as you must adapt to living without their income and wider contribution to the household. Furthermore, you may have to arrange a funeral for the deceased, which can be extremely costly.

However, if the other side (defendant) admit partial or full liability quickly, our Personal Injury Solicitors can push for you to receive an Interim Payment of compensation before a Court hearing. This can be a lifeline if you have immediate financial pressures and cannot afford to wait for a final settlement to be agreed, and the payment can keep you going until the case is resolved.

Any Interim Payments you may receive will be deducted from your final compensation settlement payout.

How Much Compensation Could I Get for a Fatal Accident?

We can advise you when it comes to statutory awards and other state benefits you could get – however, you will likely be entitled to a significant amount of money for personal injury compensation.

Our Solicitors at Simpson Millar will look at your situation and take everything into account to understand how much you could claim for – because we understand that every death or accident is different. Because everyone grieves differently, everyone therefore requires different types of support, both practically or physically, and emotionally.

The Bereavement Award

When families have lost a loved one due to an act of negligence or omission – which includes a fatal accident – they can make a claim for statutory bereavement damages.

Right now, the bereavement award is fixed at £15,120. This is the case if your loved one passed on or after the 1st of May 2020. 

If your loved one passed away before this date, the award you can claim for is £12,980.

Of course, no amount of money will ever be enough to help you deal with the loss in tragic and awful circumstances. Insteadthis compensation is there to reflect and help you cope with the trauma that unfortunately comes with your loved one being involved in a fatal accident.

Right now, the following people can make a claim for bereavement damages awards:

  • The un-married partner who’s cohabited with the person who has passed, for 2 years plus;
  • The husband, wife or civil partner of the person who has passed;
  • The mother of the person who has passed if they were under 18, and if the parents are unmarried;
  • The parents of the person who has passed if they were under 18, and if the parents were legally married when the child was conceived or born.

The Pain and Suffering of Your Loved One

This is an awful thing to have to consider, but if your loved one was in a fatal accident and didn’t pass away immediately, you could be able to claim compensation for the suffering and pain they went through before they passed.

The Funeral Costs

Funerals can unfortunately be costly, from the gravestone to the flowers and even the food and venue when it comes to the wake. You might be able to claim compensation to deal with these costs before your case is settled – if needed, we can look into this for you.

Loss of the Intangible Benefits

When your loved one passes away, it leaves a massive hole in your life.

At Simpson Millar, we understand that fatal accidents can leave people with a lot of feelings, including shock and anger. There are ‘intangible benefits’ which will be lost when your loved one passes away – we will take this into account when calculating your compensation sum.

How Long Does a Fatal Accident Claim Take?

Although your Personal Injury Solicitor will always aim to ensure the process is completed as quickly as possible, it’s important that time is spent carrying out thorough, comprehensive investigations.

  • Photographs of where the accident happened
  • Witness statements
  • Police reports
  • Medical records

However, it may be the case that they do not accept liability, in which case the claim may have to go to Court.

What is the Time Limit for a Fatal Accident?

You have three years from the date of your loved one’s death in which to make a fatal accident claim, or 3 years from the date you became aware that their death was linked to a particular accident or harmful exposure.

In the event of your loved one passing away whilst in the middle of a personal injury claim, the 3-year time limit starts again from the date of their death.

How Does the Claims Process Work for Fatal Accidents?

1.      The Free Initial Consultation

During the free initial consultation, one of our specialist Solicitors will meet with you and listen to your case. We will then talk you through how we can help and support you to get the resolution you deserve. This part of the process is free and obligation-free, as well as being informal.

2.      Providing You with a Network of Support

If we are able to work on your case, we will try and point you in the correct direction when it comes to getting you support both practically and emotionally, whether that’s counselling, charities or advice services – we have the contacts to get you the help you need.

3.      Applying for Any Early Payments You Might Need

If whoever was responsible for your loved one passing – whether that’s an individual or a company – accepts liability, full or partial, we can apply for interim payments on your behalf. This will help you deal with any immediate costs you need to pay, before your claim is settled.

4.      Negotiating your Compensation

In most fatal accident cases, a settlement will be reached and agreed on by both parties, without anything or anyone going to Court. We’ll take it upon ourselves to negotiate with the other party to make sure you get the amount of money you deserve – and we’ll make sure you get the compensation you need as soon as possible, once the claim has been settled.

The situation around fatal accidents will always be different, so it follows that how much compensation you get very much depends on your specific case. Your relationship with the loved one who passed away will also factor into the total compensation you could be awarded.

For example, if the person who passed away in an accident was married to you, generally, we will look into your joint income to tell us how much they contributed.

If you had children with the person who passed away, a bigger part of your loved one’s income will likely have  gone to the family. Therefore, the compensation amount you get will most likely be higher.

This being said, there are other things involved in how much financial loss you suffer during the loss of a loved one, as well as salary.

So, it’s important to understand all the factors that play into how much compensation you could get, including ‘intangible benefits’ and investments.

Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Solicitor?

When you’re claiming compensation for a fatal accident, you might be worried about it being complex and emotionally draining. This might feel like the last thing you need when you’re still coming to terms with the loss of your loved one.

But, our team of Personal Injury Solicitors have significant experience in this complex area of the law. We also have the objectivity needed to put together a strong and effective case.

The case will be based on evidence including:

  • Photos and videos of the accident scene
  • Police statements
  • Witness statements
  • Medical reports and documents
  • Relevant financial documents, such as pay slips and receipts

At Simpson Millar, we understand that claiming compensation may not be a priority, just after you’ve suddenly lost a loved one.

But getting the right settlement can ultimately help you get closure, and take away the financial pressures caused by your bereavement. Naturally, no amount of money or compensation can make up for the loss you’re dealing with, but it could help to make everything just a bit easier.

How Simpson Millar Can Help 

Simpson Millar has helped lots of families with claims after a loved one has passed due to a fatal accident. We understand that the law can be confusing for most people.As such,we will try to ensure that everything is simple and easy to understand when we work with you. The majority of our fatal accident claims tend to operate on a no win no fee basis. So you don’t need to worry about any financial concerns regarding your claim.

We understand that compensation will not bring back your loved ones, but it can help to lessen the potential financial burden you may face in the future. Our Fatal Accident Claims team are very good at what they do. We would be happy to help you too. Please call us on  0808 239 3227 and let us, help you.


How can a Fatal Accident Claim be Funded?

At Simpson Millar, we can deal with fatal accident claims on a No Win, No Fee basis. This way, you won’t need to worry about paying if your claim is unsuccessful.

If you’re experiencing immediate financial pressure, like funeral expenses, due to the loss of your loved one, and you can’t wait until your final settlement is 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 more information that’s tailored to your situation, get in touch with our expert Personal Injury Solicitors.


Statista. (n.d.). Road fatalities involving pedestrians in Great Britain. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/866632/road-fatalities-pedestrians-great-britain/

Health and Safety Executive. (2023, July 6). Work-related fatality figures published. Retrieved from https://press.hse.gov.uk/2023/07/06/work-related-fatality-figures-published/

Legislation.gov.uk. (1976). Fatal Accidents Act 1976. Retrieved from https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1976/30/contents

UK Government. (n.d.). Make a claim to a deceased person's estate. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/guidance/make-a-claim-to-a-deceased-persons-estate

UK Government. (n.d.). Bereavement damages draft remedial order. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bereavement-damages-draft-remedial-order

Amy Baker

Graduate Solicitor Apprentice

Amy is a Graduate Solicitor Apprentice within our Personal injury department, based in our Manchester office.

She helps clients who have sustained injuries resulting from accidents at work and accidents in public places to recover compensation for the injuries they have sustained.

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