No matter what the circumstances, losing a loved one unexpectedly is always traumatic. This is compounded if their death was caused due to somebody else’s fault. While money can in no way compensate for the loss of a loved one, claiming compensation can help ease your financial burden and help you take care of pressing financial matters.
The Law Regarding Fatal Accident Claims
According to the Fatal Accident Act 1976, dependants of the deceased are entitled to file a claim for compensation if the death was a result of somebody else’s error or negligence.
A dependent may be:
- A spouse or ex-spouse.
- A person who had been co-habiting with deceased as husband or wife or as a civil partner for at least two years prior to the death.
- Blood children and other descendants including adopted children and children through marriage or civil partnership.
- Parents or ascendants including grandparents, great grandparents and those treated by the deceased as a parent.
- Brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews
What Can You Claim For In A Fatal Accident Case?
Every case is different. The exact compensation you can claim for will depend on the circumstances surrounding the accident and the other factors. Generally, in case of a fatal accident, you would be able to claim compensation for the following:
- Pain, suffering and loss of amenity of the deceased – If death was preceded by a disease, for example an asbestos-related disease or if the deceased was bed-ridden because of medical negligence, this claim will be compensation for the pain and suffering of the deceased during their lifetime as a result of the disease.
- Actual losses – This compensation component provides for actual expenditures incurred in caring for the injured person as well as any administrative expenses involved in dealing with their demise or their estate. This covers actual costs incurred such as hospital expenses, ongoing nursing care, medicines and medical aids, housing adaptations and the cost of travelling for medical treatment. Funeral expenses are also included.
- Loss of earnings – In case the death was not immediate, loss of earnings during the time the deceased was alive but unable to work are also taken into consideration.
- Loss of services – You can also claim compensation for the loss of services that the deceased provided such as childcare, housework, gardening and other DIY chores. If the deceased was caring for another sick person in the family, the cost of hiring a replacement carer may also be considered.
- Losses for dependency – This is often the largest component of most fatal accident compensation claims. It is applicable if the deceased is survived by dependents who depended on his or her income, for example a spouse, minor children or aged parents. The amount will vary depending on the deceased’s income. The calculation may also take into account loss of pension as well as other bonuses and allowances such as healthcare benefits, use of company car and mobile phone usage.
What You Should Know About The Statutory Bereavement Award
In addition to the above, there is also the potential for recovering a nominal amount of £15,120 in the form of a Statutory Bereavement Award. This is separate from the amount you are entitled to claim as dependant compensation. In a successful fatal accident claim the bereavement award is due payable by the negligent party even if there is no loss of income or benefits for the dependants. However this is only payable to the spouse of the deceased, a civil/former civil partner of the deceased, or the parents of a deceased minor.
Time Limits For Filing A Fatal Accident Claim
There is a three year statute of limitations for filing fatal accident compensation claims. This 3 year limitation commences from the date of death or from the date the death was linked to the accident or exposure.
If the deceased was in the process of dealing with their personal injury compensation claim when they passed, the 3 year deadline would begin again from the date of their death. This allows the family to continue with their claim.
Should You Use A Solicitor Or Should You File The Claim Yourself?
The legalities surrounding a fatal accident claim can be complex and challenging. Filing such a claim while you are still grieving can make it that much more difficult. Not only will you have to navigate your way through complicated legal issues but you will also have to deal with answering numerous personal questions pertaining to your deceased loved one, which can be emotionally draining.
When it comes to fatal accident claims it is always advisable to hire an experienced personal injury solicitor. Our personal injury solicitors will take up your case on a No Win No Fee basis, so there is no financial risk to you at all.
You will get a free first consultation, during which time our solicitors will assess the merits of your case by listening to what you have to say and reading through all of the doctor’s notes and the police complaint if there is one. If you have a strong case, our solicitors will agree to take it up on a No Win No Fee basis. This is also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement. According to this agreement, you are not liable to pay any legal fees at all right through the proceedings. You only pay the fee you have agreed with us if you win the case. The rest of the solicitor’s fees will be borne by the defendant.
In order to build a strong case and get fair compensation, you will need to keep all documentary evidence pertaining to the accident. This includes salary slips, letter from the employer, witness statements, a letter from the doctor, copies of police statements, any photographs of the injury and receipts of all expenses associated with the accident or illness and subsequent death.
As well as helping you pursue a claim for damages you are entitled to, our skilled personal injury solicitors will also try to get you early part payments to alleviate your financial situation.
It’s an unfortunate fact that people die in accidents and leave behind devastated family members and loved ones. If the fatal accident was due to somebody else’s fault or negligence, it is important to get in touch with us on 0800 6524 881 and file a fatal accident claim for compensation as soon as possible.