Fatal Accident Claims
There is no amount of money that can ever compensate for the death of a loved one following a fatal accident. But compensation can be essential in helping bereaved family members cope financially in the absence of the person that has died.
At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we have a team of professional and compassionate lawyers who have helped bereaved clients obtain the compensation that they are entitled to following a variety of fatal accidents, including road traffic accidents and accidents at work.
In order to bring a successful claim for compensation following a fatal accident, you must prove that the person who caused the accident was negligent. This might mean proving another car driver drove negligently or that an employer wrongly exposed the person who died to a dangerous situation.
If there is a chance of proving that someone else caused the accident, then there are different legal routes that you can take to obtaining compensation for you and your family.
How can I bring a claim if a loved one has died?
There are two main kinds of claim that a family or those left behind can bring:-
- A claim brought on behalf of the person that has died (the ‘deceased’s estate’), or
- Claims made in their own right by family and dependants left behind. They must in some way have relied financially on the person who has died
A limited number of close relatives can also claim for their bereavement.
Claims that can be made on behalf of the deceased’s estate
The deceased’s estate is the property and assets that they left behind when they died. If, at the time of their death, they had a claim for compensation, then that right to claim forms part of the estate.
Anyone entitled to bring a claim on behalf of the estate can claim for the compensation that the deceased person would have been entitled to had they survived. The types of compensation that can be claimed include the following:-
- Pain, Suffering and Loss of Amenity
If the person who died survived for a period of time following the accident, they may have had a compensation claim for the pain suffered or the restrictions on what they could do. The claim for this compensation can form part of the person’s estate.
- Financial Losses
A claim for financial losses can be made to recover any expenses that the deceased incurred due to the accident between the date of the accident and the time that they died. These financial losses may include
- loss of earnings
- the cost or value of care from carers, friends or relatives
- travel expenses
- medical expenses
- items damaged in the accident
- Funeral Expenses
Funeral expenses can be claimed as long as they are ‘reasonable’. Our expert solicitors can advise you which expenses would be deemed ‘reasonable’ by a court.
Claims that can be made by dependents
Dependents of the deceased can claim for the financial support that they would have received from the person who has died, including from their earnings, pension or other income.
In order to recover this compensation, the person bringing the claim, otherwise known as the claimant, must show that they had a ‘reasonable expectation’ of financial benefit from the deceased.
Even if there was no financial relationship prior to the person’s death, the claimant may still be able to claim.
The person making the claim needs to show that the chance of receiving some financial benefit was ‘substantial’, rather than just a possibility. Our solicitors can advise you as to how a loss of financial support can be proved and also calculate this loss on your behalf.
In addition to the loss of financial support, a claim may be made for the loss of the deceased’s services. This can include things like helping around the house, gardening, DIY and even their services as a mother or father.
In order to successfully bring a claim for any loss of dependency, the claimant must be one of the following people:
- the wife, husband or former spouse of the deceased;
- the civil partner or former civil partner of the deceased;
- anyone who was cohabiting with the deceased, effectively as the husband or wife, and was doing so for a period of at least two years prior to death;
- any parent or other ascendant of the deceased;
- any person who was treated by the deceased as their parent;
- any child or other descendent;
- any person (who is not a child) 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; or
- any brother, sister, uncle or aunt
In addition to financial dependency, claims for ‘loss of love and affection’ are also possible where the services previously provided by the deceased were over and above those that could be provided by a housekeeper or nanny.
Compensation for bereavement
A limited number of close relatives of the deceased can claim compensation for a bereavement they may have suffered. This claim can only be made by the spouse or civil partner of the deceased, or the parents of a deceased child under the age of 18. From 6 October 2020, this was extended to cohabiting partners who had lived with the deceased for at least 2 years prior to their death.
On 1 May 2020 the statutory award for bereavement damages increased to £15,120. This figure applies to claims where the deceased died on or after 1 May 2020. Prior to this the bereavement award was £12,980, which had been the case since 1 April 2013. The amount of the bereavement award is considered by the majority of the population to be too low and the number of people who are entitled to the award is also deemed to be too few. At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we are passionate about the reform of this area of the law.
A fatal accident will often be followed by an inquest hearing. An inquest is a fact finding process whereby a Coroner will seek to determine the identity the person who has died, the place and time of their death and particularly the cause of the person’s death. It is also a chance for bereaved loved ones to have their questions answered regarding what happened and why.
Inquests are not a means of establishing fault or an entitlement to compensation. However, the evidence raised at an inquest hearing will often be of assistance in bringing a claim for compensation.
At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we can obtain evidence from the police and the Coroner’s office as well as offer you advice and assistance in advance of the inquest. We can also represent you at the inquest and question witnesses on your behalf.
For free legal advice following the death of a loved one, please contact one of Bolt Burdon Kemp’s sensitive and expert solicitors on 0203 7971 878 or complete our online enquiry form.