Fatal Accident Claims

There is nothing more devastating than losing a loved one, especially losing them suddenly as the result of a fatal accident. Dealing with the emotional shock is difficult enough, but there will likely be practical and financial implications to consider, too. If your loved one was killed as a result of a fatal accident, you may want to begin a fatal accident claim against the other party.

If you are considering a claim, our fatal injury solicitors can support you through the process from start to finish. We will help you secure the fatal accident compensation you deserve, to ensure you and your loved ones don’t struggle financially as a result of the malpractice of others.

What is a fatal accident?

A fatal accident describes an incident where somebody dies following an unforeseen event and due to the negligence or unlawful behaviour of another party.

Examples include:

  • Road accidents – for example, death caused by driving under the influence, careless driving, or other dangerous driving offences.

  • Workplace accidents – for example, accidents involving heavy machinery or falls.

  • Industrial disease – for example, asbestos exposure leading to fatal illness.

  • Crime – for example, being the victim of an assault.

  • Medical negligence – for example, a fatal accident during a surgical operation.

What happens after a fatal accident?

After a fatal accident occurs, there could be many investigative parties involved, including:

  • The police
  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
  • Coroner

A Coroner’s Inquest may be held to investigate the death and determine the cause. Inquests are important as they allow the deceased’s family and friends to get the answers they deserve. The inquest will establish the cause of death as opposed to liability. Although not essential, it can be useful to have a fatal accident solicitor attend the inquest with you so they can see new evidence first-hand to put you in the best position to build your case.

What is a fatal accident claim?

When somebody is killed in a fatal accident, their loved ones will experience pain and suffering and are likely to face a financial disadvantage through no fault of their own. As a result, under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 and the Law Reform Miscellaneous Act 1934, they may be able to file a claim and receive fatal accident compensation. Before making a fatal accident claim, we would strongly advise seeking advice from a specialist fatal injury solicitor. This will help to ensure your claim is as robust and fair as possible.

If you would like to discuss your fatal injury claim with Newtons, please get in touch.

Who can make a fatal accident claim?

According to the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, a dependent of the deceased is able to make a fatal accident claim. Dependents are defined by the Act as follows:

  • wife or husband of the deceased;
  • former wife or husband of the deceased;
  • civil partner of the deceased;
  • former civil partner of the deceased;
  • any person who –
    • was living with the deceased in the same household immediately before the date of the death; and
    • had been living with the deceased in the same household for at least two years before that date; and
    • was living during the whole of that period as the husband or wife or civil partner of the deceased;
  • parent/s or ascendant/s of the deceased;
  • any person who was treated by the deceased as his parent;
  • child/children or other descendant/s of the deceased;
  • any person (not being a child of the deceased) who, in the case of any marriage to which the deceased was at any time a party, was treated by the deceased as a child of the family in relation to that marriage;
  • any person (not being a child of the deceased) who, in the case of any civil partnership to which the deceased was at any time a party, was treated by the deceased as a child of the family in relation to that civil partnership;
  • any person who is, or is the issue of, a brother, sister, uncle or aunt of the deceased.

In addition, a fatal injury claim can be brought on behalf of the estate for the deceased’s own losses. This can be brought by the executor of the deceased’s Will or the administrator of their estate.

What are the types of fatal accident claims?

  • Statutory bereavement award – In England and Wales, under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, you may be able to claim for a statutory bereavement award. As of 1st May 2020, this sum has been raised to £15,120, which is an increase from the previous figure of £12,980. To make this type of fatal injury claim, you must be the husband, wife or civil partner of the deceased. If the deceased was under 18 and unmarried at the time of death, you must be the parents. If awarded, the statutory sum is split between all eligible claimants.

  • Financial dependency claim – To file a financial dependency claim you must be able to show that, if the deceased hadn’t been killed, you would have reasonably expected them to provide you with financial payments in the future. You do not necessarily have to prove that the deceased had made financial payments to you in the past, but this evidence can help your claim. You can also file a financial dependency claim if you can prove you are financially worse off due to the fatal accident. For example, a husband who had lost his wife would be without her annual income. Similarly, children or descendants of the deceased may lose money toward education, clothing etc.

  • Service dependency claim – You may be able to file a service dependency claim as the result of a fatal accident. If the deceased provided services to you before their death, or if it would be reasonably expected that they would have provided such services after their death, you may have a claim. Examples of services include care work, helping with elderly family members, child care, financial management, transportation, helping with house work, household maintenance and DIY etc.

  • Funeral expenses – Funeral expenses can be particularly costly, and this can understandably cause stress for a grieving family, particularly when the loss is so sudden. Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 and the Law Reform Miscellaneous Act 1934, you can file a claim for funeral expenses against the party at fault. However, you cannot claim under both acts.

  • Loss of consortium – In the event of a fatal accident, a loss of consortium claim may be filed by the spouse or civil partner of the deceased. Loss of consortium damages are considered general damages, i.e. non-economic, and are designed to compensate for disruption to the relationship. For example, loss of companionship or ability to bear to children.

Is there a time limit for making a fatal accident claim?

Yes; typically, there is a three year time limit to make a fatal accident claim. This means that you have three years after the date of death or the date of the fatal accident to make your claim. Under 18s who want to make a fatal injury claim can do so with no time limit, but only with the assistance of a litigation friend. After the child turns 18, they have three years to make the claim. There are occasionally exceptions to the three-year time limit. If you have any questions about this in regards to your fatal injury claim, please get in touch.

What is a ‘no win, no fee’ fatal injury claim?

Making a ‘no win, no fee’ fatal injury claim means that there is no financial cost to you in starting the claim. If your claim is unsuccessful, you don’t pay a penny. If your claim is successful, you pay your legal fees from the money awarded. We will, of course, discuss this with you from the outset and are happy to have an initial informal conversation with you.

Contact Newtons’ Fatal Accident Solicitors

Our fatal injury solicitors are here to support you through this unimaginably difficult time and will help you seek the compensation you deserve. Please get in touch with Emma Carr, our primary contact for fatal accident claims, to discuss how we can help you with your case.