The law in this area is contained in the Law Reform Act 1934 and particularly in the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.
Personal Injury Solicitors – Fatal Accidents
A Claimant has to establish that:-
- The deceased person was injured and killed by the fault of the person it is intended to sue for compensation
- Had the deceased survived, he could have brought a claim in his own right which would have succeeded
- The dependants of the deceased have suffered a financial loss
In other words, the defendants have a statutory claim against the person who caused the accident.
A dependant is defined as a spouse/former spouse, or domestic live-in partner of two years duration, a parent/step-parent, a child of the family, a natural child of the deceased or the brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles of the deceased or the children of such persons provided such a person was financially dependant on the deceased prior to his death.
A claim can be brought for the loss of the financial dependency over the period for which the dependency would have lasted if the death had not occurred. This can include the costs of the funeral, loss of income, housekeeping money or allowance, the loss of services provided by the deceased and even the loss of birthday/Christmas gifts.
A claim for loss of financial dependency is frequently technically complex and best left to a solicitor with experience in this area of law, such as a member of the Personal Injury Panel.
The husband or wife of the deceased or the parents of a deceased unmarried child (or mother, if the deceased child’s mother was not married to the father) can also bring a claim for bereavement. The amount of the bereavement award is £11,800.
For accidents, after 31st March 2013, the bereavement award increased to £12980.
Limitation Period for Fatal Accident Claims
The time for making a claim is referred to as the Limitation Period with fatal accident claims calculated 3 years from the date of death. This may change if the deceased survived for a period of time after the accident.
Other factors that could change this period are how or where the accident happened, for example, if the accident occurred on water, in the air or as the result of a criminal injury. The Limitation Period will then normally be 2 years instead of 3 years.
Your Guide to Making a Dependency Claim
The Fatal Accident Act (1976) states that you can claim as someone who may have relied upon the deceased prior to their death – this is known as a Dependency Claim.
To bring this sort of claim against the person who was responsible for the accident, the dependant must show that they have or will have suffered a loss and demonstrate that they had a reasonable expectation that they would have received such a benefit if the deceased continued to live.
There are instances where a person can claim for non-financial matters such as the deceased playing bigger roles in family life such as anticipated gifts for a child’s birthday or services the deceased provided such as home DIY or household chores.
A Dependency claim is different from the Bereavement Award with different criteria needing to be fulfilled. To pursue this sort of claim the dependant needs to be:
- Husband, wife or civil partner (including a former spouse or former civil partner)
- A person who lived with the deceased for at least two years at the date of death and lived during the whole of this period as husband, wife or civil partner of the deceased
- A parent or a person treated by the deceased as a parent at the date of death
- A child of the deceased, or a person treated as a child of the family in the case of marriage/civil partnership, who was not actually a child of the deceased
- Brother, sister, uncle or aunt or their children i.e. including cousin or niece/nephews
Claims Under the Law Reform Act 1934
A claim can also be brought by the estate under the Law Reform Act 1934. This claim is for the pain and suffering of the deceased between accident and death, and any associated expenses, such as a loss of income, or for nursing care.
If a close family member suffers shock from the injuries sustained by a loved one, which would give rise to a claim against a person who caused the accident, there may be, in addition, a claim for a nervous shock too.
Fatal accident claims often require representation before a Coroners Inquest. The role of the Coroner is to identify who the deceased was, how he died when he died and where he died. It is a fact-finding inquiry. The evidence is presented and a verdict reached. The more frequent verdicts are:-
- Death by natural causes
- Accidental death/misadventure
- Unlawful killing
- Open verdict
- Death by industrial disease
Personal Injury Solicitors Advice
Our personal injury solicitors can help you get the compensation you deserve. We’ll help you through this difficult time and guide you through the process. Speak to Salmon Solicitors today.