Claiming for the loss of a loved one
If you lost a loved one in an accident caused by someone else's negligence, you could be entitled to make a fatal accident compensation claim.
How Much Could You Claim?

Fatal Accident Claims

Accidents can lead to various types of personal injuries. Unfortunately, in some instances, they can result in fatalities. Fatal accidents can occur on the road, in the workplace, on construction sites, during military service, or due to medical negligence. Even a simple slip on a wet floor can have fatal consequences if the individual takes a heavy fall and sustains a serious head injury.

If you have lost a loved one in a fatal accident due to another person or company’s negligence, you will likely be eligible to claim compensation from the party at fault. Although this can’t compensate for the undoubted pain of losing a loved one, it can go some way to help ease the financial burden and provide some degree of justice to you and your family.

If you want to start a fatal accident claim or find out more about the claims process from an experienced legal adviser, call 0800 032 3660 today. Alternatively, you can enter your details into our online claim form to receive a call back at a time of your convenience.

Who can make a fatal accident claim?

Fatal accidents are unfortunately not uncommon. In the year ending 2021, there were 1,390 reported road deaths and 123 worker deaths alone, but many other incidents, such as medical negligence or violent crimes, have led to wrongful death. Losing a loved one due to a fatal injury is devastating and can often leave you with financial strain.

There are laws in place that determine who is eligible to claim fatal injury compensation following an accident. That means it is not automatic that anybody seeking compensation in this area will be eligible. People who are entitled to make a fatal accident claim include family members and dependents of the deceased, such as:

  • Spouses and former spouses
  • Civil partners and former civil partners
  • Parents and other ascendants like grandparents and great-grandparents
  • Children and all other descendants
  • Anyone treated as a parent or child by the deceased
  • Brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts

Dependents are those individuals who were reliant on the deceased for financial support. Similarly, any person who had been living with the departed as a wife or husband for two or more years immediately before the fatal injury or accident can also claim compensation.

To confirm whether or not you are legally entitled to claim compensation, contact an experienced fatal accident solicitor for free advice. To arrange your free consultation, call 0800 032 3660. This service is completely free and provided with no obligation to proceed.

Am I eligible to claim for a fatal accident?

Losing a loved one in a fatal accident is an incredibly difficult and overwhelming time. Understandably, taking legal action may not be your immediate priority. However, it is essential to recognise that making a claim can provide you with the opportunity to seek substantial compensation that can have a meaningful impact on your situation.

When fatal accidents involve the main breadwinner of the family, the consequences can be devastating. Family members may face financial strains that are hard to overcome. While the focus will always be on providing support and understanding, pursuing a claim can help alleviate financial burdens and provide a sense of justice during this challenging time.

Experienced solicitors who specialise in handling such cases understand the gravity and sensitivity involved. They will work to ascertain your eligibility to claim from the very beginning and can guide you through every step of the legal process. Before taking on your case, they will verify whether:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to your loved one
  • They breached that duty by committing an intentional or negligent act
  • Your loved one suffered a fatal injury as a direct result of that act

There are several ways you could be compensated for the death of a loved one, including for the loss of financial support and consortium. If your case has merit, your solicitor will make sure all related damages are included in your fatal accident claim, and you receive a fair settlement for your losses.

What damages can I recover in a fatal injury claim?

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 is a piece of legislation that provides a legal framework for pursuing compensation in the event of a fatal incident. It outlines the rights of the dependents of the deceased person to seek damages from the party at fault, which could include:

Compensation for financial dependency

Financial dependency is an essential aspect covered by the legislation and takes into account various factors, including:

  • The income of the deceased
  • Lost pensions
  • Employment and healthcare benefits
  • Their potential for future earnings
  • Bonuses, share schemes and investments
  • Other alternative income and savings

Calculating the exact amount of compensation for financial dependency can be complex, as it requires assessing various factors and projecting the future needs of the dependents.

Compensation for loss of services

If you lost a loved one in a fatal accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may also suffer a loss of services and support they would have provided otherwise, such as:

  • Cooking and doing household chores
  • Childcare and help with homework
  • Transportation
  • Property maintenance and DIY projects
  • Other forms of assistance that contribute to the well-being and functioning of the family

The compensation awarded for loss of services aims to recognise the practical impact and burden faced by the dependents due to the absence of the deceased’s assistance. It can be particularly hard to calculate, as some services, like helping kids with homework, do not have a specific monetary value.

Funeral expenses and financial losses

Dependents are also eligible to recover reasonable expenditures related to their loved one’s funeral, such as the cost of a memorial, wreaths and transporting the body to the grave. However, the compensation would not include expenses like funeral clothes, the wake or the memorial service.

Under the Fatal Accidents Act, you can also claim for all the financial losses incurred while caring for your loved one before their death. This may also include their lost earnings, medical expenses, costs of aids and medical equipment, or alterations to living spaces.

A statutory bereavement award for pain and suffering

A limited number of dependents can also claim bereavement damages as recognition of the wrongful death of their loved one. The amount of compensation for bereavement has been increased from £12,980 to £15,120 in May 2019 and must be equally divided between the claimants. The statutory award for pain and grief is limited to:

  • The spouse or civil partner
  • A co-habiting partner living in the same household for at least two years as a spouse or civil partner
  • The parents of a legitimate child under 18
  • The mother of an illegitimate child under 18

How do I claim compensation for a fatal accident?

If you have lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you might be eligible to make a fatal accident compensation claim. You can claim compensation on the victim’s behalf for the financial losses they suffered between the fatal injury and the date of death, and you can also make a dependency claim if you relied on their income or services.

As a first step, you should contact a fatal accident solicitor as soon as possible. They will offer you a free consultation to assess the details of your case and determine if you have grounds for a claim. You can also ask them any questions you might have about the claims process or how much compensation you could be entitled to.

If they accept your case, your solicitor will work closely with you to gather all the facts and evidence necessary to make a successful claim. Some types of proof that may be valuable in seeking compensation for a fatal incident include:

  • Medical records such as doctor’s notes, hospital records and autopsy reports can help establish the cause of death and the link between the accident and the resulting injuries;
  • Expert opinions from professionals who can provide analysis and testimony regarding the cause of the accident, the extent of the injuries, or any other relevant technical aspects;
  • Photographs and videos of the accident scene, such as any hazardous conditions or relevant objects or vehicles involved. These can help illustrate the circumstances of the injury and support your claim for a fatal accident;
  • Statements from individuals who witnessed the accident or have relevant information about what occurred;
  • Documentation related to the incident, such as police or accident reports and a coroner’s report;
  • Records of financial losses incurred as a result of the accident. These might include funeral expenses, medical bills, loss of income or future earnings, and other economic impacts;
  • If the deceased was the primary income earner or provided financial support to dependents, gather employment records, pay slips, and other evidence of their financial contribution to the household;
  • Personal statements from family members or close friends who can speak about the impact of the loss and the emotional distress suffered.

Your solicitor will determine who is legally responsible for paying your fatal injury compensation claim based on the available evidence. That could be an individual, a company, a local authority, an NHS trust or another third party. They will contact the responsible party and inform them of your intentions to start a claim.

The other side or their insurance company may offer a settlement to resolve the claim. Your injury lawyer will negotiate on your behalf to seek fair compensation. If a settlement cannot be reached, you may need to proceed with litigation and take your case to court. However, this is less likely, as more than 95% of all claims conclude without reaching the inside of a courtroom.

If the claim is successful, the amount of compensation claimed will be distributed to all eligible dependents determined by law, such as their spouse or children.

What happens at an inquest?

An inquest is a formal legal inquiry conducted by a coroner to determine the cause of a person’s death when it is unclear. They take place within six months of a fatal incident and could last as little as an hour or go on for many weeks.

Inquest hearings are a significant part of fatal accident claims and aim to establish the facts surrounding the death, including how, when, and where it occurred.

It is not a criminal trial, and the coroner does not seek to apportion blame. The coroner, who is a judicial officer, is responsible for conducting a thorough and impartial investigation into the death. They may call witnesses, examine the evidence, and question individuals with relevant knowledge.

After the inquest, the coroner will announce their findings. That includes establishing the cause of death and any contributing factors. Family members are entitled to attend the inquest, ask questions to witnesses and consider the available evidence. However, this could be upsetting, and most bereaved families choose to have legal representation during the process.

It is highly recommended to have a personal injury solicitor attend the inquest on your behalf. That will provide them with first-hand insight into the presented evidence and will give them a chance to question witnesses. They can then use this to assess the strength of your claim and decide how to move forward with your case.

Common accidents leading to a fatal injury claim

Personal injury solicitors have extensive experience in handling all types of claims related to fatal accidents. They provide compassionate and thorough assistance to clients, aiming to alleviate emotional burdens and secure the maximum compensation possible on their behalf. Fatal accidents can arise from various circumstances, including, but not limited to:

Road traffic accidents

Road accidents can have devastating consequences, sometimes leading to fatal injuries due to traumatic brain injuries, excessive bleeding, injuries to internal organs or spinal cord trauma. They can occur due to various factors, such as distracted driving, speeding, driving under the influence, poor road infrastructure or vehicle defects. If you lost a loved one in a traffic accident that was someone else’s fault, you might be entitled to make a claim for compensation.

Work accidents

Accidents at work are common, but they usually result in minor injuries. However, there are times when workers can sustain severe or even fatal injuries due to workplace accidents such as falls from heights, machinery accidents, or as a result of being crushed by work vehicles such as forklift trucks.

Employers must prioritise workplace safety and take necessary measures to prevent such accidents. These may include conducting thorough risk assessments, providing adequate training and personal protective equipment, and ensuring that all machinery is safe to be used. Otherwise, they may be liable to pay compensation for a fatal accident to their workers.

Medical negligence

When we receive treatment or undergo surgery, we put our trust in the hands of medical professionals. Although such treatment is usually performed to a high standard, mistakes can still happen. Negligence during surgery can result in the perforation of organs, internal bleeding, wrong medication being given and other errors which can result in fatalities.

Industrial Injuries

Industrial illnesses are caused by long-term exposure to hazardous substances or unsafe working conditions and can result in a fatal injury claim. Examples include mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos fibres, lung diseases caused by inhaling toxic fumes, and occupational cancers triggered by exposure to carcinogens. If you lost a loved one due to an occupational disease, a fatal accident solicitor could help secure compensation.

Criminal assaults

Criminal assaults can lead to severe injuries that can be life-threatening or even result in death. Examples of fatal injuries from criminal assaults include severe head trauma, internal injuries, or injuries caused by weapons. In such cases, you might be able to claim for the fatal incident through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). The CICA is a government-funded organisation in the UK that provides compensation to victims who have suffered injuries or their families in case of wrongful death.

These are just a few examples. Many other circumstances might have led to the loss of a loved one. As long as someone else was responsible for their death, an experienced solicitor could help you make a fatal accident claim.

To find out if you are eligible for compensation, call 0800 032 3660 or enter your details to receive a call back.

Compensation amounts for a fatal injury

The amount of compensation that you are awarded will depend upon factors that are specific to your case. When you make a fatal accident claim, the compensation will consist of the following elements:

Actual losses

Actual losses include all the costs incurred while dealing with the death of your loved one, such as funeral expenses or providing care to the injured person before their passing.

If the death was not immediate after the incident, there might also have been travel expenses, the cost of care and loss of earnings. Also, administrative costs, including estate administration fees and applying for probate, may occur. All of these losses can be considered by your solicitor when pursuing your claim.

Bereavement award

A bereavement award is a fixed amount set by the Government, currently standing at £15,120, which most people agree is far too low. Compensation for bereavement is generally awarded to the husband, wife or civil partner. It may also be awarded to the parents if the deceased was under the age of 18 or was never married.

Losses for dependency

If there are dependents that have relied on the income of the deceased, compensation for loss of dependency will make up the largest part of the award. However, the amount will depend on the income that was earned by the deceased before their death. To work out the appropriate fatal injury compensation, the court will typically follow the next steps:

  • Calculate the income of the deceased and deduct the amount they would have likely spent on themselves (for example, 35%). The resulting figure, known as the multiplicand, would have been available for the family.
  • Multiply the multiplicand by how many years the claimant would have reasonably depended financially on the departed (the multiplier).
  • Make reasonable adjustments to the multiplicand and multiplier based on your specific circumstances and factors, such as your loved one’s profession, their expected retirement age and how old they were when they passed away.

Compensation for pain and suffering

If the individual did not die immediately following the injury or illness, compensation will be awarded for the pain and suffering they endured. That is usually possible when death is due to an industrial disease such as mesothelioma or asbestosis, for example. Some examples of compensation awards include:

  • £3,760 to £4,390 if an accident leads to an immediate state of unconsciousness followed by death within six weeks
  • £4,380 for the mental anguish caused by the thought of their impending death
  • £12,540 to £23,810 if the victim is aware after suffering severe burns or lung damage and passes away within three months

How long will it take to process my fatal injury claim?

The amount of time needed to conclude your fatal accident claim will depend upon the unique circumstances that have led to the loss of your loved one. Your solicitor will aim to process and progress the case as swiftly as possible to minimise further disruption and emotional distress to you and your family.

In general, fatal injury claims tend to be more complex than standard personal injury claims due to the severity of the consequences. They may require thorough investigation, gathering of evidence, expert assessments, and negotiations with multiple parties involved.

While straightforward claims may settle within a few months, complex cases could take several years to conclude. Although this might not be at the forefront of your mind after your loss, you should appoint your injury lawyer as soon as possible following a fatal accident so they can get started with the legal process. Some of the most prominent factors that influence the amount of time that it takes to process a claim include:

  • Disputes relating to liability
  • Delays caused by the defendant’s legal representatives
  • Access to evidence
  • Access to supporting documentation
  • Availability of witnesses
  • Delays in receiving medical proof and assessments

Once your solicitors have gathered the necessary information and evidence to support your claim, they will work hard to build a strong case against the defendant and negotiate the highest compensation award possible. They will guide you through the process and ensure the third party at fault for the accident is held accountable.

How long do I have to start a fatal accident claim?

The Limitation Act 1980 imposes a three-year time limit to start a claim for a fatal accident in the UK. This period is called the limitation period and will typically begin on the date of death or the date the fatal incident occurred. After this time has expired, your case becomes statute-barred, which means you would lose your legal right to compensation.

There are some exceptions to this timeframe, such as:

  • The three-year time limit begins on a person’s 18th birthday. If a child has lost a loved one, they will have until their 21st birthday to claim fatal injury compensation.
  • There is a two-year time limit to seek compensation from the CICA, starting from the date a violent crime occurred or the date of death.
  • If you lost a family member due to negligent medical treatment or an industrial disease, the three-year time limit starts on the date of knowledge of the negligence.
  • There can be different time limits to claim compensation for a wrongful death abroad, depending on the laws of the country the accident occurred in.

You should contact a fatal accident lawyer as soon as possible if you want to find out if you are entitled to claim compensation. There is usually a lot of work involved in gathering evidence and claiming compensation for a fatal accident, so the longer they have, the better.

Can I claim fatal injury compensation on a No Win No Fee basis?

Personal injury solicitors offer a no win no fee* service for all types of injury claims, including those for accidents that result in death. If your case has merit, you will receive legal representation under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), the legal term for no win no fee. This means that:

  • They agree to take on your case without charging any upfront fees
  • You are only required to pay a success fee if and when you receive compensation
  • If the claim is unsuccessful, you are not responsible for paying a single penny to your solicitor

The success fee is a percentage of your compensation award that is agreed upon from the beginning. It is capped by law at 25% of your settlement, and there will be no hidden charges. This way, you can start a fatal injury claim without the risk of being left out of pocket if the case is unsuccessful.

Your injury lawyer will take care of all the legal aspects of the claim and help gather evidence to prove your loved one died due to someone else’s negligence. They will offer you support and advice at every step of the process and ensure you receive fair compensation.

As part of your no win no fee agreement, your solicitor will also take out an After the Event (ATE) insurance policy on your behalf. This type of legal expenses insurance will cover all the costs incurred during litigation if your case fails, such as the other side’s legal expenses, police and medical reports and expert witness fees.

To find out if you are eligible for a No Win No Fee service or to start your claim, call 0800 032 3660 today to speak to a solicitor experienced with fatal accident claims. If you would prefer to receive a call back, use our online claim form, and a friendly legal adviser will be in contact shortly.

* Personal injury claims are offered on a no win, no fee basis. If your claim is successful, your solicitor will receive up to 25% of your compensation as their success fee. Any additional costs, such as legal protection insurance, will be clearly explained to you by your solicitor before you decide to proceed with your claim. Termination fees may apply if you fail to cooperate with your solicitor. This includes deliberately misleading your solicitor, failing to attend scheduled medical or expert examinations, or not appearing at a required court hearing.