Welcome to our guide on fatal work accidents. This article focuses on making a claim on behalf of a loved one who has died as the direct result of a workplace accident. Compensation that would have been awarded to the injured party can instead be received by the deceased’s relative.

fatal work accidents
fatal work accidents

In order to be awarded compensation for work accident deaths, the accident must have been caused by someone who had a legally-binding duty of care towards the deceased. If the victim was solely responsible for the accident, then it becomes less likely that compensation could be awarded.

Our advisors are standing by to offer you free legal advice regarding your potential claim. There is no obligation to make a claim once you have heard our guidance. We are here 24/7 to assist you. We may even be able to connect you with an expert solicitor from our panel for fatal work accidents. Our contact details are just below. Alternatively, read on for more information.

  • You can call us on the number at the top of this page
  • Use the chat window in the corner
  • Contact us regarding your claim online by filling out our webform 

Select A Section:

  1. What Are Fatal Work Accidents?
  2. How Do I Prove Negligence In A Workplace Injury Claim?
  3. How Common Are Fatal Work Accidents?
  4. What Evidence Is Needed For A Personal Injury Claim?
  5. Calculating Compensation In Fatal Work Accidents
  6. How Do I Make The Most Of Working With A No Win No Fee Solicitor? 

What Are Fatal Work Accidents?

A fatal accident in the workplace is when a death at work is caused by someone not upholding their duty of care. Every employer has a duty of care to their employees. This legal obligation is stated in Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. If this duty of care is not upheld, then the employer could be said to have acted negligently.

This means that all employers must take all reasonably practicable steps to make sure the risk of injury to or death of their employers is kept to a minimum. This can be done by:

  • Making sure adequate training is provided
  • Ensuring there is sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff where necessary
  • Ensuring spillages are cleaned up in a timely manner
  • Storing hazardous chemicals safely
  • Carrying out regular health and safety checks

This, however, is not an exhaustive list. Every workplace will have its own unique risks that require assessment.

If an employer takes all reasonable steps to maintain a safe working environment and fatal work accidents still occur, it can become less likely that the employer could be said to have acted negligently.

Other employees also have a duty of care to one another. If they act in an unsafe or dangerous manner then this could also lead to compensation being owed to you if said actions lead to the death of a loved one. However, these kinds of claims can work in a slightly different way to general personal injury claims.

Read on or get in touch with our advisors for more information. 

How Do I Prove Negligence In A Workplace Injury Claim?

In order to claim compensation for fatal work accidents, there are three main points that need to be established:

  1. A duty of care was owed to the deceased. The victim will have been owed a duty of care by their employer. As mentioned above, this means that they have a legal obligation to make sure the workplace is as safe as reasonably possible.
  2. This duty was breached. For example, fatal forklift accidents can occur if an employer does not ensure an employee is trained to operate a forklift but still makes them do so.
  3. As a consequence of this, your loved one was fatally injured or endured a fatal illness. Simply experiencing a duty of care being breached is not enough to make a claim. The individual affected needs to have sustained an injury or illness as a direct result. These injuries can also lead to instant or eventual death.

You will also need to prove the above. You can do this by gathering evidence. CCTV footage and photographs are good examples of the evidence that is needed for a claim.

Time Limits

Generally, there is a 3-year time limit from the date of death for a loved one to make a claim for compensation on their behalf. This time limit is stated in the Limitation Act 1980. One of the exceptions to this rule is if it’s only discovered that the deceased passed away due to negligence at a date after they passed away.

The date that you are made aware that negligence led to the death of a loved one is known as the date of death. It can be used as an alternative start date for making claims for fatal work accidents.

If you are unsure as to whether your window to make a claim has expired or not, we are here to answer your questions. Call us whenever you’re ready.  

How Common Are Fatal Work Accidents?

Statistics on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show us how many fatal workplace accidents were reported in 2020/21. The HSE is a government body that enforces workplace health and safety legislation.

According to their statistics, there were 142 workers killed as a result of fatal workplace accidents over this period. The graph below shows the main industries affected. 

As you can see, the industry with the most fatalities was construction with 39. Roles in this field carry many potential risks such as working with heavy machinery. 

Fatal work accidents statistics graph
Fatal work accidents statistics graph

It’s important to note that only certain parties can make a fatal claim on behalf of the deceased. The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 lists the parties who can be eligible to do so.

First, under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934, the estate of the deceased has 6 months to make a claim. If this doesn’t happen, then the dependents under the Fatal Accidents Act can claim.

Dependent under the Act include:

  • The spouse of the deceased, or former spouse
  • The deceased’s civil partner, or former civil partner
  • A parent or grandparent of the deceased
  • Children or other descendants of the deceased
  • The deceased’s sibling, aunt or uncle

Call us today if you’re unsure as to whether you’re eligible to make a fatal claim accident on behalf of a loved one.

Possible Ways That Fatal Work Accidents Could Occur

In this section, we will give you some possible scenarios that could result in claims for fatal work accidents.

  • Lack of suitable personal protective equipment: Certain roles require specialist protective equipment. For example, some construction roles require employees to remove asbestos from older buildings. The material has been linked to a form of lung cancer and exposure to it can be lethal over time. Because of this, proper apparatus must be supplied by the employer where necessary. If it is not, then breathing in the fibres can be fatal for the employee years later.
  • Inadequate training: An employer may not ensure an employee has the training to safely operate potentially dangerous machinery, such as a forklift. If the employer then asks the employee to operate the forklift, they could cause fatal injuries or either themselves or other employees.
  • Unsafe walking surfaces: Stairs and walkways need to meet a standard of safety. If they don’t, then this could lead to employees tripping, slipping, or falling down the stairs. If the fall is back enough then the injuries sustained could lead to them passing away.  

What Evidence Is Needed For A Personal Injury Claim?

As mentioned earlier in this article, claims for fatal work accidents require evidence. We have mentioned already that photographs and CCTV footage can prove useful. However, there are other forms of evidence you can acquire.

For example, the deceased should have medical records relating to their treatment. These records could act as proof of the treatment that was administered and possibly the cause of death following a post mortem.

If you are eligible to make a claim on the behalf of a deceased loved one, then you may also be able to make a request to access their medical records too. However, this is not necessarily a guarantee.

The NHS has a detailed answer to the question, “can I access the medical records of someone who has died?

Calculating Compensation In Fatal Work Accidents

The amount that’s awarded to a deceased’s loved one on their behalf can be made up of a few different payments. The one that directly addresses the wrongful death itself is called general damages. It can be calculated by legal professionals with the assistance of a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG).

The amount can vary depending on factors such as how aware of their injuries the deceased was before they passed. The length of time between the injuries being sustained and the death of the victim are other elements that can affect the value of a general damages payment.

We’ve included a compensation table below made up of some example entries from the latest edition of the JCG.

Awarded ForDescriptionAmount
Full Awareness(A) With full awareness - when the victim is completely aware of their injuries for a period of time before it starts to fluctuate for 4-5 weeks. Invasive treatment will have taken place but death will have occurred within 2 weeks or 3 months.£11,770 to £22,350
Followed by Unconsciousness(B) Unconsciousness - the pain will have been excruciating before losing consciousness after 3 hours. Death 2 weeks later.£9,870 to £10,010
Immediate Unconsciousness/Death after Six Weeks(C) The injury will lead to immediate unconsciousness with death after 6 weeks.£3,530 to £4,120
Immediate Unconsciousness/Death within One Week(D) Unconscious immediately/death within 1 week. If the victim dies the same day after a short period of consciousness, the amount will tend to be towards the lower end of this bracket.£1,290 to £2,620
Mental Anguish(E) Reduction in life expectancy or fear of impending death.£4,380

Other Potential Damages

There are other payments that can be included in a fatal accident settlement. For example, if a dependent such as a spouse or child is making the claim, then they may have been financially reliant on the deceased’s income. If this is the case, the person making the claim could receive an amount that’s calculated based on what the deceased could have earned if they had survived. This would fall under financial dependency.

You could also claim for loss of services normally provided by the deceased. This could include:

  • Maintenance of the home
  • Gardening
  • Household chores

You could also seek compensation known as special damages. This is related to financial losses caused by the accident such as:

  • Loss of earnings. You could claim for earnings the loved one would have received had the accident not occurred.
  • Lost benefits. This could include payments such as pension contributions.
  • Funeral costs. If you paid for the funeral, you could recover the costs.
  • Travel expenses. This can involve fuel or transport expenses accrued from visiting your loved one in the hospital.
  • Care costs. You could seek compensation for the gracious care you provided a loved one as well as any care you paid for.

You will need proof in order to stand a chance of reimbursement. Receipts are a good example of this.

Can I Make A Bereavement Claim?

There is also a payment known as a bereavement award. It is a statutory award for the spouse or civil partner of the deceased. Where the deceased is unmarried and under 18, the parents could claim the award. If the child is illegitimate, the mother could claim it.  

Cohabiting partners who lived with the deceased for at least 2 years immediately before their death could also claim the bereavement award.

As listed in the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, the amount is currently £15,120. More than one person can apply for this amount. However, if more than one person is successful, the amount is split between them. 

How Do I Make The Most Of Working With A No Win No Fee Solicitor?

Enlisting the services of a legal professional to assist you with your claim can seem like a financially daunting task. However, all of the solicitors on our panel work on a No Win No Fee basis. A No Win No Fee agreement is also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA).

This means that you are only required to pay your solicitor their fee if they are successful in helping you win your claim for compensation. Then, they are paid via a small and legally capped percentage that’s taken from your settlement. There are no additional hidden fees with no upfront solicitor fee payments.

If your No Win No Fee claim is unsuccessful, you don’t need to pay your lawyer a penny for their fee. 

Speak To Us About Starting Fatal Work Accident Claims

Get in touch with us today to see if you could make a claim for compensation due to the wrongful death of a loved one.

  • You can call us on the number at the top of this page.
  • Use the chat window in the corner.
  • Contact us regarding your claim online by filling out our webform

More Information About Fatal Work Accidents

Here are some additional links to information that could also help you.

  1. NHS advice on grief, loss and bereavement.
  2. How to request CCTV footage to use as evidence.
  3. Find out if you could appoint a litigation friend to claim on your behalf.

Why not check out more of our personal injury claims guides below:

Thank you for reading our guide on claims for fatal work accidents.