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Fatal accident compensation claims
The loss of a loved one is shocking, distressing and in many situations financially crippling but the thought of claiming compensation following a fatal accident is often the last thing on the minds of those left behind. However should the question of claiming compensation following a fatal accident become an issue, our specialist solicitors can assist both in terms of representation at an inquest and looking at a possible claim for compensation. Call our legal team on 01616 966 229.
From road traffic accidents to accidents in the workplace, hundreds of people die every year in avoidable situations which were not their fault. These accidents affect so many people and while accident compensation claims are the last thing on anybody’s mind in the aftermath of a fatal accident, the compensation that Stephensons secure could be essential for a family that are left behind.
For example, the family of a worker who is killed in an accident at work could be left struggling to pay bills and at risk of losing their home without the worker’s income. We could secure compensation which ensures that the spouse and children left behind are financially secure in the absence of a breadwinner and also ensure that they receive compensation for the devastation caused by the negligence, misconduct or malpractice of others.
Who can make a fatal accident claim?
The executor appointed within the deceased’s Will or the person appointed as administrator of their estate (if there is no Will) will have the legal standing to bring a fatal accident compensation claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate.
As well as a claim being brought on behalf of the estate for the deceased’s own losses, a claim can also be brought on behalf of any dependants of the deceased. Dependants are defined within the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 as follows:
- The wife or husband or former wife or husband of the deceased
- The civil partner or 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
- Any parent or other ascendant of the deceased
- Any person who was treated by the deceased as his parent
- Any child or other descendant 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 in which the deceased was at any time a civil partner, 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
Any person falling within any of the above categories may be able to bring a fatal accident compensation claim as a dependant of the deceased, if they can show that they were dependant on the deceased in some way.
What can I claim following a fatal accident?
The representative of the deceased’s estate can bring a claim for the deceased’s injury if it can be established that there was a period of pain and suffering prior to the deceased’s death. The representative can also bring a claim for funeral expenses and any other financial losses incurred by the deceased prior to their death.
Only a limited selection of dependants are able to bring a claim for bereavement damages following the death of a loved one. In order to claim bereavement damages you must be a wife, husband or civil partner of the deceased or if the deceased is an unmarried child under 18, the parents (only the mother if the parents are unmarried) of the deceased can claim bereavement damages. At present, bereavement damages are a fixed sum of £12,980 and much lobbying of the government has been done to increase this sum, as it clearly does not reflect the loss of a loved one.
All dependants (as defined above) are able to claim for their loss as a result of their previous dependence on the deceased. This could be a financial dependency (i.e. a reliance on the deceased’s income) or a dependence on services provided by the deceased (such as household tasks, gardening, DIY etc). If a claim is made on behalf of a partner or spouse and the deceased’s children, the claim for financial dependency will usually be split between them in a suitable apportionment, to reflect the fact that the deceased’s income (but for his/her death) would have been split between the deceased, the spouse/partner and the children.
The dependants of the deceased can also claim for funeral expenses, if they paid for the funeral.
Can I get help with an inquest?
An inquest can be an intimidating place for families and loved ones of the deceased. There are several reasons the coroner may call for an inquest into the cause of death. It is likely an inquest will take place if a death cannot be explained following a post mortem, is sudden, violent or the deceased was in the care or custody of the state at the time of death. Inquests can be an opportunity for families and loved ones to seek answers and they are often quite informal and relaxed.
If it seems that representation is required at the inquest, we can assist you with this, or we can simply attend to provide support. We can guide you through the process both before and after the inquest. We will obtain all documents in the possession of the coroner prior to the inquest in order to help you prepare. We will work alongside you before and during the inquest to assist you in getting the answers that you deserve about how and why your loved one died.
What are the time limits for making a claim after a fatal accident?
You have 3 years from the date of the accident to bring a claim for a fatal accident. If the injured person dies within 3 years of the accident (due to their accident-related injuries), the limitation clock starts again for his or her family members and they have 3 years from the date of death to bring a claim. If the injured person dies more than 3 years after their accident and has not commenced court proceedings in respect of their claim, their family members are unfortunately out of time to bring a claim.
There are variations to these time limits in specific circumstances. For example, if the death occurred on a ship or aeroplane, the time limit would be 2 years from the date of the accident. The time limit for applying for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority in respect of a fatality is also 2 years. Further, if the injury caused the injured person to lose mental capacity to conduct the claim, the limitation period may not have commenced and it may still be possible to bring a claim after their death.
Is no win no fee funding available for fatal accidents and how does it work?
It possible to fund a fatal accident claim on a no win no fee basis, which means that if the case is unsuccessful, you will not be required to pay any legal costs. This ensures that the deceased’s loved ones do not have to be concerned about paying out their own money to pursue the claim and also do not have to worry about losing money from the deceased’s estate.
If the case is successful, there will usually be a deduction from the compensation recovered in order to pay our success fee. This success fee is payable as a reflection of the risk that we have taken in pursuing a case on a no win no fee basis, given that we do not recover our costs if the case is unsuccessful.
What is a statutory bereavement award?
A statutory bereavement award is a sum of money that you are able to claim if you are the wife, husband or civil partner of the deceased or the deceased is your legitimate child and is under 18. It is a fixed sum of £12,980 and is intended to compensate close family members for the loss of their loved one. We strongly believe that the government ought to increase the amount of this award as well as extending the number of relatives who can claim it, as it is presently very restricted and is clearly an insufficient sum to compensate for the loss of a life.
Why choose Stephensons?
Our sensitive and understanding fatal injury solicitors have years of experience in providing legal services to bereaved parties who have lost relatives due to fatal accidents. Since these proceedings are so important to those involved, Stephensons offers specialist legal advice from knowledgeable and compassionate legal professionals.
Stephensons has represented a wide variety of clients from all over the UK. In addition to the compensation won, the legal action taken has lead to the introduction of improved safety measures within the workplace and beyond in order to ensure that similar accidents to not happen again.
Some cases are more complex than others, including cases of fatal diseases contracted at work, but as one of the largest firms in the UK, we offer expert guidance in every area of the field.
Our legal advisors can provide advice on a fatal injury claim and ensure that your future is secure in the wake of bereavement. Call 01616 966 229 for more information.
If you have lost a loved one due to an avoidable fatal accident, it can be difficult to know who to turn to or where to start. In the midst of grief, it is not easy to have to deal with the administration involved in arranging a funeral and dealing with the deceased’s estate. It can be particularly hard to cope following an accident due to someone else’s negligence which has caused the death of a loved one, as feelings of anger and hurt can be difficult to handle.
As well as helping you with investigating whether claim can be made against the person who caused the death of your loved one, we can help you to access other support services which may make a very difficult time slightly easier to cope with.
You may be entitled to benefits following the death of your spouse and it is important that you contact your local benefits office to enquire as to whether you are entitled to Widowed Parent’s Allowance or Bereavement Allowance. We can assist you with this application process if you are finding it difficult to face.
If you are struggling, you should seek advice from your GP and try to secure a referral for counselling. However, we can also refer you to charities and counselling services for bereaved families, such as Brake, RoadPeace, Child Bereavement UK and Cruse Bereavement Care.
We can also refer to you to other services within our firm, such as our wills and probate department who can help you with the administration of the estate and any issues arising from this. Our firm can also help you with the inquest, including attending and representing you if you so wish. We are happy to and more than capable of helping you seek the answers that you need after the tragic loss of your family member.
If you would like our assistance in accessing any of these services or you simply wish to discuss the services available to you after losing a loved one, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01616 966 229.
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