A Guide On FAQs About Fatal Accident Compensation Claims

This guide examines fatal accident compensation claims. It covers topics such as who can claim fatal accident compensation on behalf of the deceased and what criteria must be met in order to have good grounds to seek compensation for their fatal injuries. To help illustrate when a claim might be valid for a fatal accident, the guide will look at a few situations that could result in fatal injuries. This guide also looks at who can make a fatal accident claim as a dependent of the deceased if they depended on them financially or in other ways. 

Furthermore, this guide examines how compensation could be awarded in successful claims. It includes a brief explanation of the legislation that directs this, as well as a look at the Statutory Bereavement Award and how funeral expenses could be recovered. 

If you are the estate of the deceased looking to claim compensation for their fatal injuries or you want to claim as a dependent, you might like to work with a solicitor. We conclude with a look at how you can have the support of a solicitor specialising in fatal accident claims on a No Win No Fee basis. 

A member of our team can answer your questions about fatal injury compensation. The advice they give is free. 

To talk to a team member about fatal injury claims:

  • Call 020 8050 2736
  • Fill in our claim online form and an advisor will contact you. 
  • Ask about dependency claims in our live chat. 

A fatal road traffic accident scene attended by paramedics.

Select A Section

  1. How To Make Fatal Accident Compensation Claims
  2. When Is An Inquest Done?
  3. What Accidents Could Cause A Fatal Injury?
  4. What Is A Dependency Claim? 
  5. When Can You Claim The Statutory Bereavement Award?
  6. Can Fatal Accident Claims Be Made On A No Win No Fee Basis? 
  7. More Information About Making Fatal Accident Compensation Claims

How To Make Fatal Accident Compensation Claims

A fatal injury claim can be made by the deceased’s estate if the deceased died because of negligence. In certain areas of everyday life, for example, while on the roads, at work or in a public place, you are owed a duty of care. It is when this duty of care is breached and someone suffers an injury as a result that a claim can be made for the harm caused. It is only the estate that can make a claim for the deceased’s pain and suffering as well as their financial losses while they were still alive. 

However, dependants of the deceased, those who relied on them financially, could also be compensated for the loss of dependency. We discuss this a bit later in the guide.

It is the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 that allows the estate to claim for the death, injuries, and financial losses of the deceased. Although dependants can make a claim for loss of dependency, it is only the estate that is able to bring a claim in the first 6 months following the death of the deceased. In these 6 months, they can make a claim on behalf of the deceased and on behalf of the dependants. If no fatal injury claim is made by the estate in those 6 months, dependants can make their own claim for loss of dependency. 

What Can The Estate Claim Compensation For?

A compensation claim brought on the grounds of negligence can be awarded up to two heads of loss: general and special damages.

General damages cover compensation for the physical pain and mental suffering that your loved one experienced as a result of their fatal injuries. Special damages cover expenses incurred by the deceased between the date of the accident and the date of death.  For example, their medical expenses, such as nursing care and lost income. 

To help calculate general damages, those with the responsibility for doing so, such as a fatal injury solicitor or legal professional, may refer to the compensation guidelines published by the Judicial College (JCG). 

Our table below looks at how compensation can be awarded on behalf of the deceased’s pain and suffering. The top row looks at how a fatal accident settlement may consist of more than one part. In the following rows, we provide figures from the 17th edition of the JCG that might be relevant to fatal accident compensation claims. As all claims are different, this table is only a guide. Furthermore, the top row is not from the JCG. 

InjuryNotesCompensation Guideline
Fatality and Add-onsSettlements may compensate for the deceased's pain and suffering and losses affecting the dependents, such as lost income.Up tp £550,000+
Very Severe Brain DamageFull-time nursing care is needed because of severe cognitive and physical disabilities.£344,150 to £493,000
Tetraplegia/quadriplegiaSevere paralysis occurring below the neck and affecting all the limbs. £396,140 to £493,000
ParaplegiaParalysis that affects the lower body. £267,340 to £346,890
Severe Psychiatric DamageThere's problems coping with life and relationships with a very poor prognosis.£66,920 to £141,240
Death with Full AwarenessThe injured person suffered full awareness, then fluctuating consciousness and intrusive treatment. Death occurred within three months.£15,300 to £29,060

For more information about fatal injury settlements, speak to a member of our advisory team. 

When Is An Inquest Done?

In certain circumstances, an inquest may need to be held. This is done to help determine how someone died. It is a fact-finding court inquiry. If the investigation concludes that future deaths could be prevented, the coroner may then write a report and send it to the relevant organisation. 

Circumstances in which an inquest might be held include:

  • If the cause of death remains unknown following a post-mortem (medical examination to determine the cause of death).
  • The person died a violent or unnatural death.
  • Or, they died while in police custody, in the hospital, or in prison. 

During the inquest, the main events leading to the death will be considered. Evidence and documents may be presented and witnesses as well as experts could be called for statements. 

Additionally, other organisations may also have to carry out investigations into how someone died. For example, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who monitors workplace health and safety, may need to carry out their own investigation if your relative sustained fatal injuries in a workplace accident. 

Fatal accident compensation claims will need supporting evidence. If the coroner’s report concludes that the death was avoidable, this will be a strong piece of evidence for the claim. The inquest can help determine if third-party negligence caused or contributed to their fatal injuries. Call an advisor to discuss what other items you could submit as part of the fatal accident claims process. 

What Accidents Could Cause A Fatal Injury?

There are various situations in life where a third party owes you a duty of care. This means that the third party has a legal obligation to take proper care to avoid causing foreseeable harm. Negligence occurs when the relevant third party breaches this duty causing an injury. 

Fatal accident compensation claims must prove that they satisfy certain criteria. This means that for the estate or a dependent to be eligible to make a fatal accident claim for compensation, it must be proven that: 

  • A relevant third party owed the deceased a duty of care
  • This party failed to uphold their duty. 
  • Your loved one sustained a fatal injury because of this breach. 

In the sections below, we look at a few examples of those who owe a duty of care. 

Fatal Workplace Injuries

While in the workplace, the employer has a duty of care to take reasonably practicable steps to protect the health, safety and welfare of their workforce as per the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. If they fail in this duty, an employee could sustain fatal injuries in an accident at work, for which the employer would be liable for. 

For example, as part of an employer’s duty of care they need to ensure that their employees are sufficiently trained. If a forklift driver isn’t trained, they may crash into a shelving unit and knock it over, which could lead to fatal injuries.  

A deceased person beneath a forklift in a warehouse.

Public Places Fatal Accidents

Whilst out and about in public spaces, the person or organisation responsible for that place, otherwise known as the occupier, must ensure the reasonable safety of those using the premises for the intended purpose. This is the duty of care set out in the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957. If the occupier fails to ensure reasonable safety, a public liability accident resulting in fatal injuries could occur. 

For example, the occupier of a building accessed by members of the public must ensure that staircases are safe to use by making sure that they are well-lit, have handrails, are slip-resistant, have marked edges and are free of clutter.

If a problem is reported, such as a broken handrail, and they fail to take timely action, they may be in breach of their duty. This could result in a member of the public falling down the stairs if they grab the handrail and it comes away from the wall. They could sustain fatal injuries in a fall from a height in which the occupier could be liable. 

A deceased man at the bottom of stairs.

Road Traffic Accidents Causing Fatal Injuries

While using the roads, all road users (including vehicle drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycle riders) owe each other a duty of care to navigate in a way that avoids causing injury and damage. Part of this duty entails adhering to relevant road safety legislation, such as the Road Traffic Act 1988 and any relevant rules and regulations from the Highway Code. If a road user fails to do this, they could cause a fatal road traffic accident

For example, a driver speeding is breaching their duty of care. Speeding drivers may be unable to stop in time at a pedestrian crossing. This could result in a pedestrian sustaining fatal injuries. 

Medical Misdiagnosis Resulting In Death

Anyone seeking medical attention is automatically owed a duty of care when a hospital or medical professional agrees to provide treatment. To fulfil this duty, medical treatment must meet a minimum standard. All medical professionals owe the same duty of care to provide a service of skill and care that of a competent doctor. However, if harm occurs that otherwise could have been prevented due to a breach of this duty, medical negligence has occurred. 

For example, your relative may have presented to their GP with symptoms that indicated cancer. Instead of referring them for further tests, the GP diagnosed them with a condition they did not have. This resulted in the cancer spreading while they underwent unnecessary treatment for a different condition. If the cancer had been caught when they initially presented with symptoms, the diagnosis would not have been fatal. 

A member of our advisory team can discuss the situation that led to your loved one’s passing. Get in touch to talk about fatal accident compensation claims using the contact details at the top of the page. 

Doctor looks at an x-ray on a computer screen.

What Is A Dependency Claim?

A dependency claim is part of a fatal accident claim that can be made by those who are disadvantaged by the deceased’s death (known as dependents). If a claim has not been made within six months of the fatal accident by the estate for the deceased’s injuries or for compensation for the dependents, then under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, the dependents of the deceased can make their own claim for the impact the death had on them. Under the Fatal Accidents Act, the following relatives can make a compensation claim:

  • Current or former spouse or civil partner of the deceased.
  • Someone who lived with the deceased as a spouse for at least two years prior to their passing. 
  • The deceased’s parent or another person treated as a parent by the deceased, such as a step-parent. 
  • A child, or person treated as a child by the deceased, such as step-children or step-children from a previous relationship.
  • The deceased’s siblings, uncle, aunt or cousins. 

If you would like to discuss fatal accident compensation claims, contact a member of our team. They can help assess your eligibility to file a claim.

What Types Of Losses Can I Claim For?

These relatives could claim for:

  • Loss of service, including past and future losses. For example, if you need to hire a childminder or nanny because your spouse was the one who looked after the children. 
  • Financial Dependency. Very often, we are financially dependent on others, such as a child dependent on a parent or a partner dependent on a spouse. Financial compensation can be claimed in this aspect if the person you were dependent on passes away, but only if the fatal accident claim is successful. 
  • Loss of consortium, or loss of a special person (losses that can’t be financially quantified elsewhere). For example, the loss of companionship. 

To discuss what losses could be recovered in fatal accident compensation claims, speak to a member of our advisory team. 

When Can You Claim The Statutory Bereavement Award?

In addition to compensation for your loved one’s pain and suffering and the impact of the death, certain relatives may also be able to claim a Bereavement Award as set out in Section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act. This is a lump sum of £15,120. It is split if more than one relative claims. Relatives who might qualify for the Bereavement Award include:

  • The deceased’s spouse or civil partner. 
  • A person who lived with the deceased as a partner or spouse for at least 2 years before they died. 
  • If the deceased was an unmarried minor, the parents. However, if the deceased was an unmarried minor born out of wedlock, then only the mother can claim the Bereavement Award. 

Am I Able To Claim For Funeral Expenses? 

Funeral costs could also be recovered as part of a fatal accident compensation claim. If the estate paid for the funeral, these can be recovered under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act. However, if the dependents paid funeral costs, they could be compensated under the Fatal Accidents Act. 

 To find out more about fatal accident compensation claims, speak to an advisor. 

Can Fatal Accident Claims Be Made On A No Win No Fee Basis?

If you are eligible to launch a fatal accident claim, you may like to have a solicitor to help guide you through the claims process. One of the fatal accident solicitors from our panel could help with the claim. Usually, our panel offer a No Win No Fee service under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA)

A No Win No Fee solicitor:

  • Won’t take payment for their legal services upfront.
  • Also, don’t ask for fees as the compensation claim is ongoing. 
  • If the fatal accident claim fails, they won’t expect you to pay for their work on it. 
  • Only take a small success fee if the claim is successful. This is a legally limited percentage of the award. 

Talk to a member of our advisory team about fatal accident compensation claims. They can discuss the eligibility criteria and assess if you could file a fatal accident claim. If you meet these requirements, you could be connected to one of the No Win No Fee solicitors from our panel. 

To discuss fatal accident claims:

  • Call 020 8050 2736
  • Request for an advisor to call you by filling in our claim online form. 
  • Ask about fatal injury compensation in our live chat. 

A solicitor takes notes about fatal accident compensation claims.

More Information About Making Fatal Accident Compensation Claims

Further guides about fatal accidents:

External resources that might be helpful:

Please direct any further questions about fatal accident compensation claims to a member of our team.