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Guide to fatal accident claims

Fatal accidents can transpire across all facets of daily living. Nevertheless, certain kinds of incidents bear a higher propensity to result in fatal injuries compared to others.

Data from the Department of Transport unveil that 1390 individuals lost their lives in road traffic accidents in 2021. Motorcycle incidents, pedestrian fatalities, and cycling accidents constitute a significant number of fatalities amongst those harmed on the roads.

The latest annual report on fatal workplace accidents, presented by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), disclosed that 135 workers were killed in workplace mishaps in 2021. Accidents involving forklift trucks, incidents in construction, falls from heights, and farming mishaps contribute to a considerable number of fatalities in workplace accident statistics.

Whilst not all fatal accidents can be attributed to another's fault, in instances where they are, bereaved family members often opt to seek legal counsel and aid from specialised personal injury solicitors, to help navigate through the ensuing legalities.

 

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What is a fatal accident compensation claim?

A fatal accident compensation claim is a legal process where relatives of a person who has died due to another party's negligence seek financial compensation to assist with any resulting financial burdens and compensate for pain and suffering. It can provide vital support during challenging times following a tragic loss.

If you find yourself in this situation, you can seek the aid of  our fatal accident compensation claims solicitors to help seek a successful claim.

What is available for fatal accident compensation claims?

The heartbreak that accompanies the loss of a beloved individual in a tragic incident not only brings emotions but also potentially exacerbates financial strains, especially if you held financial reliance upon the departed. Amidst this challenging period, there may be financial aid available to assist families as they navigate through their newly altered situations.

Navigating the compensation claims process following a lethal incident can be intricate and protracted, particularly during a time of grief for the bereaved family. We recognise this, leveraging our expertise and commitment to facilitate your claim’s progression in a manner that is both expedient and empathetic.

Statistical insight into fatal incidents in the UK

Unfortunately, fatal incidents are not a rarity. During 2021/2022, the following was reported by the Department of Transport:

  • 1,695 fatalities, a decline of 3% compared to 2019
  • 29,795 killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties, a decline of 3% compared to 2019
  • 136,002 casualties of all severities, a decline of 11% compared to 2019

As well as the following by the Health and Safety Executive in 2022/2023:

  • 135 workers killed in work-related accidents. 45 of those are fatal construction accidents.

Not every fatal accident is a consequence of someone else's negligence; however, where negligence is involved, compensation may be achievable.

Fatal incident claims arise when a family member seeks financial compensation on behalf of the departed and for the support they subsequently forfeit due to their death. The tenacious team of legal experts at Stephensons are here to assist you in effectively seeking financial compensation in cases involving those who have tragically lost their lives - be it in workplace incidents, traffic accidents or criminal assaults such as murder or manslaughter.

When can you make a fatal accident compensation claim?

A fatal accident compensation claim can typically be made when a person's death has resulted directly from another party's negligence, error, or intentional harm. This might involve incidents such as road traffic accidents or workplace accidents.

The claim aims to provide financial support for dependants and cover related costs, such as funeral expenses, while also compensating for pain and suffering experienced by the bereaved.

It is often subject to certain time limits, generally three years from the date of death or from when the negligence was discovered, though exceptions may apply in specific circumstances.

A fatal accident claim following a lethal incident may be initiated by:

  • The deceased's "estate," representing the losses endured by the individual throughout their life
  • The deceased's dependants, in accordance with the Fatal Accident Act 1976.

How much compensation is awarded for a fatal accident?

Upon a successful claim for a fatal accident, the estate may seek compensation for the following:

  • Compensation for the deceased’s anguish and distress experienced throughout their life
  • Economic losses incurred before passing, including costs for medical interventions, transportation, and forfeited income
  • Expenditures related to funerals or cremations.

In instances where death is immediate post in a lethal incident, compensation for pain and suffering is typically not awarded.

The majority of fatal accident claims conclude without a court trial, with damage amounts being determined through negotiation, thereby lacking a prescriptive formula for determining the compensatory sum. Should the estate be granted damages, the financial compensation will be split amongst the beneficiaries, following the directions in the deceased’s Will or in adherence to intestacy regulations.

Dependant compensation claims via The Fatal Accident Act 1976

The Fatal Accident Act 1976 establishes a pathway for the "dependants" of a deceased person to assert a compensation claim on their own behalf. This claim seeks damages not for the deceased per se, but for the familial losses encountered post-mortem.

A dependant, under this context, is defined as anyone from the following categories who held either financial or emotional reliance on the deceased:

  • The deceased's spouse or civil partner
  • A previous spouse or civil partner of the deceased
  • A child or grandchild of the deceased, inclusive of step and adopted relationships
  • A relative of the deceased, encompassing siblings (and half-siblings), aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins
  • A parent or grandparent of the deceased
  • An individual who cohabited with the deceased akin to a spouse or civil partner for a minimum duration of two years before the passing
  • Any individual who, notwithstanding not being a direct blood relative, was regarded as a child within the deceased's familial setting
  • An individual whom the deceased considered a parental figure.

These definitions provide a framework for understanding who may be eligible to seek claims under the stipulations of the Act.

What is a statutory bereavement award?

A statutory bereavement award is a fixed, legally determined sum awarded to eligible relatives for anguish and sorrow after a wrongful death due to negligence, under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. It provides financial compensation to specific close relatives, such as spouses, or parents of a deceased minor.

In May 2020, the established bereavement award amount experienced an uplift in England and Wales, elevating from £12,980 to £15,120, marking a rise of £2,140. Eligibility for this increased sum is exclusive to those who endured the loss of a close one on or subsequent to 1st May 2020.

Albeit it is understood that no amount of money can truly compensate for the loss of a loved one, the amount is set by statute, meaning it is fixed by law, and can therefore be adjusted by the government from time to time. Only specific relationships to the deceased (such as spouses, civil partners, and parents, if the deceased was a minor) are eligible to claim this award, though the specific eligibility criteria can vary and should be confirmed based on the current legal standards and any recent amendments.

It's also notable that the statutory bereavement award is separate from any damages that might be claimed for financial dependency on the deceased.

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