Fatal Accident Compensation

A death in the family is an absolute tragedy, but when the death is as a result of someone else’s negligence that makes it even more traumatic.

In order to make a fatal accident compensation claim as a result of medical negligence, this must usually be pursued within the 3 year limitation period from the date of death. It is important to seek legal advice here for clarification on the limitation period as different rules apply to different situations.

In the situation where a claimant dies, there are two parts to the claim that can be put forward.

A claim for the benefit of the deceased’s estate

Under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 (LR(MP)A 1934) a claim can be brought for the benefit of the deceased’s estate. If there was a period of survival between the negligence and the death then it is possible to claim for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, loss of income up to the date of death and services and care provided up to the date of death. It is also possible to claim, regardless of any period of survival, for damages to personal items and funeral expenses (if not otherwise claimed for and paid by the dependants). Any damages claimed will pass to the deceased’s estate and be distributed in line with the deceased’s will or intestacy. It is not possible to claim for any future losses under this Act.

A claim for the benefit of the dependants

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (FAA 1976) a claim can be brought for the benefit of the deceased’s dependants and those entitled to an award of bereavement damages. There are three elements to a claim:

  • A dependency claim for the financial losses suffered by the dependants of the deceased;
  • An award for bereavement damages; and
  • A claim for the funeral expenses, if paid by the dependants and not otherwise claimed for by the estate.

Who are the dependants?

There are strict criteria which define who will qualify as a ‘dependant’, but these include spouses, civil partners, ascendants and descendants of the deceased. It is important to identify all dependants before pursuing a claim, as only one claim can be put forward under the FAA 1976.

It must be shown that there is a reasonable likelihood that the dependants have or will suffer financial loss as a result of the death of the deceased. The types of financial loss that can be claimed are loss of future earnings, pension loss, services rendered by the deceased (such as housework, gardening, DIY etc.) and loss of intangible benefits (the personal attention and affection provided by the deceased).

Bereavement allowance

Part of a claim will be the bereavement award which is a set figure awarded to a limited class of people in the event of a negligent death. This is currently set at £12,980 and this can be awarded to:

  • The spouse or civil partner of the deceased;
  • The parents of a legitimate unmarried deceased child; or
  • The mother of an illegitimate unmarried deceased child.

Where both parents are eligible to claim, this award will be divided between them equally.

It is our belief that the bereavement award is in desperate need of reform in order to make the figure fair, realistic and up-to-date. We strongly support the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) who are battling to put this on Parliament’s agenda and create reform.

What do we do?

At Davies and Partners we have years of experience in pursuing fatal accident claims, sometimes known as an accidental death lawsuit. We completely understand the trauma and grieving process that is involved in these situations and we take a holistic approach to our work, supporting you every step of the way until a final resolution is reached on your claim and compensation is acquired to allow security for your future.

Contact us today for a free initial consultation, where one of our medical negligence solicitors will discuss the details of your claim with you. They will then be in a position to give you a guideline value to your claim and advise you on the next steps to take and whether it is worth pursuing your claim.

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