By Danielle Nicholson. Last Updated 1st June 2023. Welcome to our guide to making a wrongful death claim. In it, we look at fatal accident compensation in detail, explaining how family members could claim accidental death compensation if they’ve lost a loved one.
The death of a loved one is never going to be something that’s easy to deal with but when their life has been taken in a fatal accident or due to somebody else’s negligence, such as a motorcycle accident or assault, it could be even more difficult.
Getting Help With A Wrongful Death Claim
In either of these cases, there is a high probability that a compensation claim could be made by either a dependent of the deceased, a family member or the estate of the victim. In any of these cases, Advice can help to make a fatal accident compensation claim with you.
If you’d like to begin a claim today, please contact us on 0161 696 9685 so that one of our personal injury specialists can help you to begin a claim.
If you’d like to know more information first then please carry on reading this guide which will provide all the information that you may require prior to beginning your claim.
Select A Section
- What Are Fatal Accidents?
- What Are Wrongful Deaths?
- Compensation Payouts For The Death Of A Family Member
- What Can A Fatal Accident Or Wrongful Death Claim Include?
- What Else Can You Be Compensated For After A Fatal Accident Or Wrongful Death?
- The Law And Wrongful Death Or Fatal Accident Claims
- Compensation For The Death Of A Family Member – Who Is Eligible To Claim?
- Can I Make A Bereavement Award Claim?
- Fatal Car Accident Compensation Claims – Evidence Examples
- Fatal Accident At Work Claims – Could You Claim Workplace Death Compensation
- Medical Negligence Wrongful Death Claims
- Fatal Accident Claims Against A Local Authority Or Council
- What Is The Time Limit For Fatal Accident Claims
- How To Begin A Fatal Accident Or Wrongful Death Claim
- Fatal Accident Claims With A No Win No Fee Solicitor
- Related Guides And Information To Fatal Accident Compensation Claims
What Are Fatal Accidents?
A fatal accident is one where the victim is killed in an accident caused by a third party, with no fault on the part of the victim. This could be caused by a road traffic accident, a criminal act against the victim or an accident at work.
What Are Wrongful Deaths?
Wrongful deaths are slightly easier to define as they are caused by the negligence of another person and, again, there is no fault from the victim.
Examples of wrongful death include death during an operation or surgical procedure, which are examples of medical negligence, or death in a workplace where the machinery or equipment did not conform to regulations.
The difference is slight but in fatal accidents, it’s not always clear who is to blame for the accident whereas wrongful death it is much more clear that somebody is at fault for the fatality.
We look at who can make a fatal accident claim for the effect of the loss of the deceased on certain family members later on in this guide.
However, if your loved one died due to a third party’s negligence, you may like to know more about compensation for fatal accidents. To help arrive at a figure for the deceased’s physical pain and emotional suffering from their fatal injuries, legal professionals use the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This is a document that provides guideline compensation brackets for different injuries.
Our table below contains potential injuries your loved one may have suffered from the accident that caused their death alongside the compensation bracket from the JCG. We have only provided it as guidance. As each case is different, our table cannot tell you the exact value of a claim made on behalf of your loved one.
|Death and add-ons
|Could include the deceased’s pain and suffering as well as losses affecting dependents.
|The figure awarded will depend on factors including awareness and life expectancy.
|Psychological impact, pain and life expectancy among other factors will impact the award amount.
|Very severe brain damage
|There is very little, if any, meaningful response to the environment.
|£282,010 to £403,990
|Severe psychiatric damage
|The person cannot cope with life and personal relationships.
|£54,830 to £115,730
|Death with full awareness
|Full awareness following burns and lung damage.
|£12,540 to £23,810
Call our advisors to learn more about fatal accident claims. They can provide a free claim valuation and talk you through the claiming process.
Wrongful death compensation is made up of a number of different elements that can vary from case to case. A personal injury lawyer will assess the claim and decide which of these elements is relevant to the claim.
This element is for the pain and suffering part of a claim. It is not for the pain suffered during the accident but the pain and suffering that the death has caused the claimant.
Special damages aims to compensate you for specific financial losses that you may have incurred as a result of your loved one’s wrongful death or fatal accident. This could include:
- Loss of earnings – if you have needed to take time away from work.
- Travel costs – such as for taxis to and from the hospital.
- Care costs – for any care the deceased may have needed before their passing.
For fatal accidents, you may also be able to claim the following.
Funerals are not cheap, and, in the case of fatal accident compensation claims, they are completely unexpected costs which you may try to claim back following the accident.
The Law And Wrongful Death Or Fatal Accident Claims
There is special legislation supporting fatal accident compensation claims, namely the Fatal Accident Act 1976, which details who may seek compensation following a fatality that was caused by somebody else.
Essentially it states that if a death is caused by any negligent reason where the victim would’ve been able to make a compensation claim themselves, had they not died, then the person responsible can still be liable for damages claimed by relatives of the victim.
When seeking fatal accident compensation for the death of a family member, you must be eligible to claim on their behalf. Under the Law Reform Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1934, the estate of the deceased can start a claim on the deceased’s behalf for the pain and suffering they experienced before they passed. However, under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, qualifying relatives are able to claim for the impact the death has had on them – but only after 6 months if the estate has not done so.
The eligibility criteria under the Fatal Accidents Act is limited to the following:
- Spouse or ex-spouse of the deceased
- A partner who has effectively acted as a husband or wife in the last two years
- Children, adopted children or stepchildren (either through marriage or a civil partnership)
- Parents, grandparents and great grandparents, or guardians (anyone who the victim regarded as a parent)
- Brothers or sisters, including stepsiblings
- Aunts or uncles
- Nieces or nephews
You could potentially also be eligible to claim a bereavement award, which is another type of compensation. We’ll discuss this more in the next section, as well as the eligibility criteria.
If you are unsure whether you are eligible to claim for a wrongful death in the family, our advisors are available 24/7 to offer you free legal advice. Furthermore, they can connect you with our panel of fatal accident solicitors if you are eligible to claim.
A bereavement award is separate to the compensation for death claimed for as described above. It is a set amount of £15,120.
As per the Fatal Accident Act 1976, bereavement awards may be payable to:
- Wife, husband or civil partner of the deceased
- Cohabiting partner of the deceased
- Parents of the deceased
If you have lost a loved one due to a breach of duty of care, then you could potentially claim fatal accident compensation on their behalf.
This is also true if you lost your loved one in a fatal car accident. Compensation can only be awarded to you however, if you have evidence to support the claim. For instance, you could gather:
- Dashcam or CCTV footage
- Medical files and coroner reports
- Witness contact details
Because there will be unique circumstances when claiming settlements for wrongful death, each compensation calculation will consider every aspect of your claim.
To find out more, get in touch with our advisors today. They could potentially offer a personalised compensation estimate.
Not every accident at work would be eligible for a compensation payment but cases, where it can be clearly proven that a colleague or your employer were negligent in some way, would be eligible.
Examples of how an employer could be negligent include:
- No, or inappropriate, personal protective equipment (PPE) was provided when the accident occurred.
- Staff had inadequate training or were not made aware of the risks involved.
- Machinery or tools were damaged, faulty or poorly maintained.
- If risk assessments had not been conducted prior to the task being undertaken.
Some examples of accidents at work that could lead to fatalities include:
- Work vehicle accidents where a passenger, driver or bystander are fatally wounded.
- Roofing or scaffolding falls.
- Machinery related deaths.
- Slips or trips that result in a fatality.
- Asbestos-related cancer
Health and safety investigations and coroners reports should identify how the fatal accident occurred but if you are in any doubt or suspect the employer was negligent then please contact one of our team to discuss your options.
Medical Negligence Wrongful Death Claims
Wrongful death compensation claims due to medical negligence can be complex cases to prove which will usually require specialist medical advice to support the claim.
Examples of cases where fatalities can be caused by negligence include:
- Death at a care home where negligence was the cause
- Childbirth fatalities caused by negligence to either the mother or baby
- Misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of a condition such as cancer
- Surgical negligence during an operation
- Death during cosmetic surgery
Fatal Accident Claims Against A Local Authority Or Council
As with other claims for fatal accident compensation, if the local authority or council caused the accident in some way, then you would be entitled to claim against them as well.
For the council to be held responsible, it would have to be proven that the cause of the accident was something which they should’ve been aware of or taken steps to prevent it from causing an accident.
- Uneven pavements that cause the victim to fall and be fatally injured
- Trees or branches falling on the victim as trees should be assessed by the council
- An accident in a council run park or community area which was caused by damaged equipment.
What Is The Time Limit For Fatal Accident Claims
If you are seeking compensation on behalf of a loved one, you must start the claiming process within the relevant time limits. For fatal accident claims, this is typically three years from the date of death.
Alternatively, this could be made from the date of knowledge. This is when the fatal injury was first connected with negligence. This can be formed on the date of an inquest or the date of a postmortem.
However, it is also important to remember that for all fatal accident claims, only the deceased’s estate can bring forward a claim for the first six months after their death. After this time, the deceased’s dependents can bring forward a claim for how the death has impacted them
How To Begin A Fatal Accident Or Wrongful Death Claim
To begin your claim, the first step is to call us and discuss what happened and how it has affected you. We know that it will be difficult for you to recall the details surrounding the death of your loved one all over again, so we’ll work at your pace to ensure you don’t feel pressured at any point.
We offer free legal advice, so even if you’re not sure if you want to begin a claim yet or have concerns about how the claim works, you should still get in touch so we can point you in the right direction.
We’ll ascertain the key parts of what happened including who was fatally injured, where the accident happened, where it happened, who you believe caused the accident and then we’ll discern whether you’re an eligible person to be making the claim.
Once we’ve gathered all of the information, we’ll assess everything thoroughly and advise you if you have a valid claim for compensation or not. We don’t want to mislead you at this traumatic time so will always assess claims honestly and let you know what we think you should do next.
Fatal Accident Claims With A No Win No Fee Solicitor
After discussing your claim with one of our advisors, they could connect you with a solicitor from our panel. They have years of experience handling various types of claims, including those for fatal accidents. If they agree to take on your case, they may offer you a Conditional Fee Agreement, which is a type of No Win No Fee agreement.
When working with a solicitor on a No Win No Fee basis, you won’t be expected to pay any upfront or ongoing fees. You also generally won’t have to pay for their services if the claim fails. Instead, you will pay your solicitor a success fee if your claim is successful. The success fee is a legally capped percentage that your solicitor will deduct from your compensation award.
To find out more about claiming fatal accident compensation with a No Win No Fee solicitor, please contact our advisors. Our friendly team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to help answer your questions and offer you free advice.
To contact an advisor today, you can:
Related Guides And Information To Fatal Accident Compensation Claims
Finally, we’ve provided some further articles that you may find helpful while deciding if you’re going to make a claim or not.
Bereavement Guide – A guide from the charity MIND, about the effects of bereavement and the effects it has on us.
We hope you found this fatal accident claims guide helpful. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any further queries about how to make a wrongful death claim.