The loss of a loved one in a fatal accident is by far one of the worst experiences anybody will ever have to cope with. Dealing with their loss is hard enough but if the accident happened because of somebody else’s negligence or wrongful act it can make matters even harder. While no amount of money will make coping with your emotions any easier, compensation could be sought to help with any financial impact. In this article on fatal accident claims, we’ll review what compensation might be paid and the steps you’ll need to take to begin your claim.
Our claims team is here to help if you would like advice on your options. We know it may be difficult to discuss your situation with a stranger but your advisor will be compassionate and patient when reviewing your claim with you. If there is a reasonable chance that you’ll be compensated, we’ll ask one of our experienced solicitors to step in. They’ll help make the fatal accident claims process a little less stressful by offering a No Win, No Fee service if your case is accepted. That means you won’t have to pay for their work unless compensation is paid.
If you’d like to know more about how we can help, please call our team on 0800 652 1345 today. Alternatively, please continue reading to learn more about your options following the loss of a loved one.
Can I claim compensation for a fatal accident?
Our team of solicitors has helped many clients claim compensation following the loss of a loved one caused by:
- Fatal car accidents.
- Fatal accidents at work.
- Negligent medical treatment.
- Criminal injuries.
Whatever type of accident or incident your loved one was involved in, compensation could be sought by:
- The deceased’s estate. This claim will seek damages for the pain, suffering, and death of your loved one.
- Dependants. Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, those that were financially dependent on the deceased could be entitled to compensation.
Before a personal injury solicitor will take on a fatal accident claim, they’ll need to review whether:
- The defendant in the case owed the deceased a duty of care; and
- They acted negligently and caused the accident to occur; and
- As a direct result of the accident, the claimant was fatally injured.
As part of our free consultation, we’ll check whether a duty of care existed so you shouldn’t worry about this too much. Various types of legislation are used to establish this. For example, the Road Traffic Act 1988 could be relevant in fatal car accidents. Similarly, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 might apply in a fatal accident at work.
To prove your loved one’s death was caused by negligence, evidence will be considered by your solicitor. This could include CCTV footage, medical records, witness statements, photographs, and police reports. However, when somebody dies unexpectedly, a coroner will investigate the cause of death. Although the coroner will not apportion blame, their report will become a public record that could be used as evidence to prove what happened.
Importantly, you could start a fatal accident claim even if the deceased was partially to blame for the accident. During the claims process, a percentage of the blame would be apportioned to each party involved in the claim. If it was agreed that the deceased was 25% to blame for the incident, for example, any settlement would be reduced accordingly.
Please get in touch if you would like to check your eligibility to claim compensation.
Claiming compensation on behalf of the deceased’s estate
The first part of a fatal accident claim would usually be based on the suffering the victim endured and any costs they incurred prior to their death. This part of the claim could be based on:
- Pain and suffering the deceased had to deal with during and after the accident.
- Any psychological injuries. This could include any distress, anxiety or fear of dying.
- Financial costs linked to care, medical treatment, loss of earnings and travel.
- Cremation or funeral expenses.
In fatal accident claims, if death was instantaneous, no award would be made to cover pain and suffering.
Most claims for wrongful death are dealt with amicably between both parties which means they don’t usually need to be heard in court. Once a claim is settled, the compensation would go to the victim’s estate and be divided as per their instructions in their will. If no will exists, the laws of intestacy will apply.
The Fatal Accidents Act 1976
According to this section in the legislation, the following dependents can claim compensation following the unlawful death of a loved one:
- Husbands and wives.
- Former husbands and wives.
- Children and grandchildren (including stepchildren).
- Civil partners.
- Former civil partners.
- Somebody who lived with the deceased for at least two years prior to death as if they were husband, wife or civil partner.
- Parents and grandparents.
- Somebody the deceased treated as a parent.
- Siblings, half-siblings, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins.
Any of the above could be entitled to compensation if they were financially dependent on the deceased. The aim of this compensation is to give each claimant enough money to enjoy the same level of living that would’ve been provided if the fatal accident hadn’t happened.
The process of making a dependency claim can be complicated and it’s one of the reasons you may wish to take on legal representation. We’ve outlined the basic process of how dependency compensation is calculated in fatal accident claims below:
- Calculate the deceased’s income including wages, pension, company car, investments and other benefits. Then deduct a percentage the deceased would’ve spent on themselves. The balance is known as the multiplicand.
- Work out how many years the claimant would’ve been financially dependent on the deceased and multiply this by the multiplicand.
- Make adjustments based on individual circumstances.
Due to the complexity of these calculations, it’s not possible to say how much compensation for a fatal accident you could receive without reviewing your claim fully. For this reason, please get in touch here if you’d like one of our specialists to review your case for free.
Following the death of a loved one from a fatal accident, husbands, wives or cohabiting partners may be entitled to a statutory bereavement payment. At the time of writing, the current payment is £15,120. This can also be paid to parents of a deceased child (under the age of 18 and never married) if legitimate, but just to the mother if the child was illegitimate.
This is a statutory payment but it must be applied for. You can do this yourself or one of our solicitors could help if you’d rather not deal with it whilst you’re still grieving.
Other forms of compensation for a fatal injury
If you will lose any financial support because your loved one has died, you could be entitled to additional compensation. However, this type of claim is usually quite complex as they are linked to the Department of Work and Pensions. As such, we’d advise you to speak to a solicitor for advice on how to proceed.
Time limits for making a fatal accident claim
Any type of personal injury compensation claim has a 3-year time limit in the UK. This is true for fatal accident claims too. This will either start from the date of death or from when the person who is claiming was made aware of the death (the date of knowledge). We’ll look at criminal injury claims shortly but we will point out that the time limit for these claims is 2-years rather than 3.
Although starting a fatal accident claim can be distressing, we’d suggest that you begin the process as quickly as possible. Personal injury or medical negligence solicitors usually have quite a few tasks to complete prior to filing the claim so the more time you give them the better.
The length of the claims process will vary. The main factors that determine how long it will take to be compensated are:
- Whether the defendant’s insurers have admitted liability for the death of your loved one.
- If agreement can be reached over the amount of compensation being claimed for.
Please get in touch on 0800 652 1345 if you’re unsure how long you have left to begin your claim.
Fatal injury claims based on a criminal act
If your loved one died following a violent crime against them, compensation might be paid by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). The CICA can compensate victims of violent crimes in England, Wales and Scotland.
Importantly, claims are possible even if the criminal has never been caught, interviewed by the police, charged or found guilty in court.
It is possible to claim against the criminal directly and also make a CICA claim. However, if you were to win damages in a civil case, the amount would be deducted from any payment by the CICA. As such, it’s worth checking which course of action is best when you discuss your claim with your solicitor.
CICA claims have different eligibility criteria to other fatal accident claims. The main differences are that the time limit for claiming is only 2-years and you must have reported the crime to the police. As well as claiming for the death of your loved one, additional payments may be made by CICA for loved ones who witnessed the crime occurring.
No Win, No Fee claims
Claiming fatal accident compensation is likely to be quite traumatic and stressful. That’s before you think about legal fees if you decide to work with a personal injury solicitor. To reduce your financial risk and lower your stress levels a little, our panel of solicitors provide a No Win, No Fee service if your claim is accepted.
As a result, you will not need to pay your solicitor for their work in advance. Also, you won’t pay them unless the claim is won and compensation is awarded. So that you have these terms in writing, you’ll be sent a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) to look through and sign if you wish to proceed.
The CFA will show you how your fatal accident claim will be processed. It will also list the criteria that must be met before you need to pay your solicitor for their work. Rather than having to send funds to pay your solicitor, they’ll deduct a ‘success fee’ from any compensation that’s paid.
The success fee is a percentage of your settlement amount (listed within the CFA) used to cover your solicitor’s costs and expenses. Legally, success fees are capped at 25% when using a CFA.
If your claim is lost, you won’t need to pay a penny for your solicitor’s work.
Please call today if you’d like to know more or if you’d like to check if one of our No Win, No Fee solicitors could help you.
Start a fatal accident claim today
We hope this article has explained when you could claim fatal accident compensation following the death of a loved one. While the claims process won’t be the easiest thing to deal with, our specialists will try to handle as much as possible for you.
If you would like us to review your case for free, please call today on 0800 652 1345. During your call, you’ll be given free legal advice and your options will be explained. There’s no obligation to continue if you don’t want to but we could appoint a personal injury solicitor if your claim is suitable. Again, if they take on your claim, they’ll try to achieve the maximum amount of compensation possible on a No Win, No Fee basis.
If you have any additional questions about fatal accident claims, please feel free to call or use live chat to ask them.