Last updated on May 12th, 2022
We know that if you lose a loved one unexpectedly in a fatal accident, a compensation claim is not likely to be at the front of your mind. However, you may need urgent financial help to deal with living costs and funeral expenses. You may also have long-term concerns about your financial situation if you were dependant on your loved one’s income.
In this fatal accident claims guide, we’ll look at the reasons that you may be eligible to claim, how the claims process works, and what amount of compensation might be paid following a wrongful death.
If you’re looking for a solicitor that can act on your behalf to secure compensation following the loss of a loved one, we can help. Our personal injury solicitors act compassionately and efficiently when working to secure compensation for you and your family.
To help you through the claims process, an advisor from our team will provide a no-obligation review of your case. We know that you may find it hard to discuss the loss of a loved one with a stranger so we work at a pace that suits you and will not put any pressure on you to continue. If you do decide to start a fatal accident claim with us, we could appoint a specialist personal injury solicitor to your case. Importantly, to help reduce the stress involved with claiming, they’ll provide a No Win No Fee service. That means that you won’t have to pay for their work if your claim is not successful.
If you would like information on how to make a claim, please call our free helpline on 0800 6524 881. To learn more about how we can help before contacting us, please feel free to read the rest of this guide.
Table of contents
- Am I Eligible To Make A Fatal Accident Claim?
- Dependency Claims
- When Can You Make A Fatal Accident Claim?
- How Much Compensation For A Fatal Accident Could I Claim?
- Fatal Accident Claims Time Limits
- Why Use A Solicitor To Make A Fatal Accident Claim?
In this section, we are going to explain the criteria solicitors use before taking on a fatal accident claim. When you get in touch, they will check whether:
- Your loved one was owed a duty of care by the defendant; and
- The defendant was negligent in some way; and
- As a direct result of that negligence, your loved one suffered a wrongful death.
There are several ways that a close relative could be compensated according to the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. We’ll review each of these in the next few sections of this guide. If you have any questions whilst reading, please feel free to connect with us via the live chat option.
This part of a fatal accident claim could compensate you if you were dependent on your loved one’s income before they were fatally injured. As well as being based on their salary level, it could take into account other benefits that their employment provided. Some examples here include company cars, private healthcare provision, future pension payments, and other similar benefits.
According to the Fatal Accident Act 1976, dependents that can make such a claim include:
- A spouse, ex-spouse, civil partner.
- Any person who was living together with the deceased in the same household immediately before their death for a period of at least two years, and were living the whole time as wife, husband, or civil partner.
- 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.
It is also possible to claim compensation for certain financial losses from your loved one’s death. For example, you could claim for any admin costs associated with the management of their estate, the cost of caring for them prior to death, and funeral expenses as well.
The figures in this element of your claim may not always be trivial. For example, if you needed to modify your home to allow you to care for your loved one following their accident, the cost of these modifications could be claimed back.
There is a statutory bereavement award that could be claimed separately from any fatal accident compensation claim. The amount increased from £12,980 to £15,120 on 1st May 2020. Although this change is to be welcomed, it does mean any death prior to that date would receive the lesser award whereas a death on or after that date would receive the higher award.
A bereavement award can currently only be claimed by:
- A spouse or civil partner.
- A co-habiting partner where they were living together with the deceased in the same household immediately before their death for a period of at least two years and were living the whole time as a wife, husband, or civil partner.
- The parents of a child (under 18) if legitimate.
- The mother of a child (under 18) if illegitimate.
Where two parents claim the bereavement award, it will be split equally between them.
In some cases, it may also be possible to seek compensation for any financial support you’ve lost following the fatal accident. It is based on financial support that you and other dependants would have received if the individual had not died.
It is best to speak to your appointed personal injury solicitor about these payments that are linked to the Department of Work and Pensions as they can be quite complex.
In this section, we’ll look at when you might need to make a fatal accident claim. Importantly, there are so many different scenarios that we can’t list them all here, however, some examples of when a claim could be made include:
- Road Traffic Collision (RTC). If your loved one was killed in a road traffic collision, a claim might be possible. Our solicitors have experience in dealing with RTCs and could work with you to try and ensure the defendant’s insurer compensates you fully.
- Medical misdiagnosis. Where your loved one has died following a medical misdiagnosis, the claim will usually be made against NHS Resolution. This is the organisation that deals with compensation claims made against NHS trusts and medical professionals.
- Criminal Injury Claims. If your loved one was killed by a criminal during a violent crime, we could help you to claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).
- Industrial injuries. Another way in which we can help is if your loved one died from industrial injuries due to their employer’s negligence. This can range from not providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to claims for death caused by inadequate training.
We can provide free legal advice on fatal accident claims even if you decide not to take action. Therefore, please call today if you’d like to discuss your options.
As you might expect, there isn’t a set amount of compensation for a fatal accident. However, as well as the elements of your claim that we discussed earlier, the estate of the deceased could also claim for any suffering caused by their injuries prior to death.
Although it isn’t pleasant to think about, victims of fatal accidents may have suffered differently before passing away. For example, an individual killed instantly in a car accident wouldn’t have suffered the same as somebody who had suffered severe burns but was still conscious for a period of time, and aware that death was imminent. Therefore the Judicial College advises varying compensation amounts for different circumstances, as demonstrated by the selection below.
- £12,540 to £23,810 compensation where there is full awareness following severe burns and lung damage causing death in up to 3 months.
- £4,670 compensation for mental anguish caused by impending death.
- £3,760 to £4,390 compensation where the victim is immediately unconscious following the accident and passes away after 6 weeks.
Please note that the compensation amounts above should only be used as a guide and do not take into account other factors, such as if the victim died from asbestosis, misdiagnosed cancer, brain damage, etc. These figures would be an additional element of those types of claims where the victim has eventually succumbed to their illness/injuries.
The Limitation Act 1980 dictates that there is a 3-year time limit for all fatal accident claims. This will begin from the date of death or the date of knowledge of the person for whose benefit the action is brought.
We would advise that it is best to begin the fatal accident claims process as soon as possible. There can be a lot of work required by your solicitor before they can file the claim so the longer they have the better.
The amount of time it will take to settle the claim will vary depending on whether the claimant (or their insurer) admits liability for the accident promptly, or not. Our solicitors will always work as efficiently as possible so that they are not the cause of any delays.
For criminal injury claims, the time limit is 2-years.
To check how long you’ve got left to make your claim or to ask any other questions, please call today.
It can be hard to deal with any type of compensation claim. When dealing with the death of a loved one, the process can be even harder. While most insurers aren’t deliberately awkward, they will only pay compensation following a fatal accident if it can be clearly attributed to their client’s negligence.
We believe your claim will be easier and that you’ll have a better chance of receiving a fair amount of compensation if you use one of our personal injury solicitors. They are experienced in dealing with insurers and other legal entities and will do all they can to try and ensure you are compensated appropriately.
During the claims process, your solicitor will do all they can to shield you from complex and legal questions by dealing with them on your behalf. You’ll always know what’s happening though as you’ll receive regular updates about the progress of your claim.
If you’d like to discuss how we could help you to start a claim, please call us on 0800 6524 881 today. Our advice is always free whether you decide to take action or not.
You’ve reached the end of our fatal accident claims guide, please contact us if you have any further questions.