Claims For Fatal Accidents

Claiming Compensation After Losing Someone In A Fatal Accident

Losing a loved one in a fatal accident is a devastating and harrowing experience, especially if their death was wholly preventable. In the aftermath of a fatal accident, those left behind can feel a sense of not knowing how to carry on and can often take months before they can return to their daily routine.

Losing a loved one in a fatal accident causes enough emotional trauma, without life's pressures adding to it

Understanding that you are not alone and that there is help, support, and advice available is crucial in the recovery process.

Struggling To Cope

After the death of a loved one, family members will be facing untold pressure and may find increased financial burdens adding to their emotional trauma.

Understandably, claiming compensation after a fatal accident will not be an immediate concern, however it may be crucial for some families, especially if they were dependent on the deceased's income.

In the immediacy, a sum could be secured to help you with funeral costs and other such expenses, which threaten to add further stress to those who are still processing the loss of a loved one.

The Deceased's Estate

For those who feel they cannot cope in the aftermath of a loved one's death without additional financial support, a fatal accident claim could be made on behalf of the deceased's estate.

If you were not married, in a civil partnership, or the child of the deceased, and you are organising their funeral, then claiming on behalf of their estate allows you to recuperate the costs of the funeral, a headstone, flowers, and any costs relating to the wake.

Those who were not dependent on the deceased for support can often be overlooked in the aftermath of their death, however requesting compensation on behalf of the deceased's estate can help loved ones who are not covered by other areas of the law find closure after a fatal accident.

Fatal Accident Dependency Claims

Family members and loved ones who were financially dependent on the deceased can often feel additional burdens as they begin to worry how they will cope with ongoing bills without the support of the deceased.

In such instances there are steps that can be taken to ensure that dependents do not suffer any additional losses by falling on hard times after having to process their personal loss.

For those that do feel that they require additional financial support in the aftermath of a fatal accident, a claim could be made under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.

The Fatal Accidents Act includes provisions for the following:

  • A Bereavement Award:
    Bereavement awards allow a flat rate of £12,980 to be paid to the spouse, civil partner, or parent (if the child was under 18) of the deceased.

    While this sum will not go anyway in compensating for the real-world loss of a loved one, it is – by its nature – designed to consider the emotional trauma following a fatal accident or violent crime.
  • Loss of Intangible Benefits:
    When considering the additional financial pressures placed on surviving family members, certain aspects are difficult to calculate.

    This is where a consideration for intangible benefits comes in, as spouses and parents can recover some of the impalpable losses that they will suffer after losing a husband, wife, or child.
  • Dependency for financial support:
    Claims that fall under this category are calculated for those who were financially dependent on the deceased.

    A claim can be made for financial dependency by surviving spouses and civil partners, members of a couple who have cohabited for 2 years, a minor who was dependent on the deceased for day to day living expenses, and young adults who were dependent on the deceased's financial support after they left school (for example, a child with university fees).
  • Dependency for services:
    If you have lost a loved one who performed an array of tasks on your behalf, then you may feel lost without them. A claim for dependency on services can help ease the day-today burdens faced without them and can help you find help for tasks such as shopping, cooking, DIY, cleaning, domestic chores, and gardening.

Compensation After A Fatal Accident

If you feel like you cannot cope after the loss of a loved one, our compassionate team of experts can help you figure out what to do next. We understand the emotional strain that can be caused by the mere thought of claiming for damages after the death of a family member, which is why we strive to put you straight through to one of our understanding lawyers, who can help you every step of the way.

As part of our commitment to you we:

  1. Offer a free initial consultation and home visit: This is an informal chat where you will get to know your solicitor and we will try to establish how events unfolded

  2. Signpost support networks: After our consultation, we will help connect you to local agencies that can provide counselling, advice, and emotional support to those who have lost a loved one

  3. Apply for interim payments: We will strive to secure interim payments for your claim, meaning that immediate financial burdens, such as funeral expenses, can be covered

  4. Fight your corner: After we have secured interim payments to cover immediate expenses we will work to secure your claim and will push for a settlement before a court hearing, so that your ordeal is over as soon as possible and you can begin to process your loss

  5. Arrange representation at criminal proceedings or inquests: Attending an inquest or criminal proceeding can be unnerving, especially when emotions are running high after a fatal accident. We can arrange free representation for you at criminal proceedings and inquests, which we hope will ease the emotional strain of losing a loved one

  6. Negotiate a settlement: In most cases, a settlement will be offered before the actual court date. In cases of a settlement offer, we will negotiate with the defendant to ensure that you receive an amount that goes some of the way to compensating your devastating loss

  7. Taking a claim to court: If a settlement is not offered we will take your civil claim to the courts and will present your case to a judge, who will rule on compensation based on the merits of the case

We know that dealing with the loss of a loved one will be one of the most difficult things in your life; as such our team of highly trained solicitors treat every fatal accident enquiry with empathy and understanding.

Calculating Compensation

Due to the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, the amount of compensation that is awarded following a fatal accident depends on your relationship with the deceased.

  • For surviving spouses, compensation is calculated by multiplying a portion of your joint net income, before your contribution to this net income is subtracted to find the multiplicand of household income
  • Where children are involved, it is generally assumed that a greater proportion of the deceased’s income is spent on the family rather than themselves, meaning that damages will be higher. This is considered when making a claim and compensation should account for the loss of income that once supported a family

Calculating how much the court will award for the future loss of financial and service dependency is not a straightforward process. It is not as straightforward as thinking that the deceased may have worked for a certain amount of years, so the final sum will be the amount of lost years multiplied by the multiplicand.

Salary alone does not dictate the amount of financial loss that can be felt after the loss of a loved one. Interest on earnings and any possible investments, as well as normal life expectancy for the deceased, will all be considered when calculating damages.

Ultimately, every claim is different and the amount that could be awarded for damages will depend on the specifics of the case.

Our team have dealt with many complicated fatal accident claims and can help you through this difficult time, whether your loved one was killed in a road traffic accident, through the negligence of a professional, or through any other wholly avoidable means.

Contact our Catastrophic Injury Team to discuss claiming compensation for the loss of someone now by using the online enquiry form and we will call you back or you can call us direct on freephone: 0808 129 3320.

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Rose Gibson | Partner, Complex Personal Injury | Simpson Millar LLP

Rose Gibson
Partner, Serious Personal Injury

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