A Guide On Making Fatal Accident Claims

This guide will discuss fatal accident claims, including who could be eligible to seek compensation on behalf of a loved one who has died due to their fatal injuries.

You will also see information on the legislation governing the duty of care owed by third parties in different circumstances and some scenarios detailing how a breach of this duty can result in a fatal accident at work, on the road, or in a public place.

Additionally, we have provided an explanation of how compensation is calculated in fatal accident compensation claims, as well as some examples of evidence you can use to prove that your loved one’s death was the fault of the third party.

The final section of this guide discusses some of the benefits of making a fatal accident compensation claim with one of the No Win No Fee solicitors on our panel.

Get in touch with our advisors today to find out more about claims for fatal accidents. They can help answer any of your questions as well as offer you free advice. Speak to the team today by making an enquiry about your claim online via our form.

A man lying on the floor unconscious.

Browse This Guide

  1. When Can You Claim Compensation For A Wrongful Death?
  2. How To Make Fatal Accident Claims
  3. When Could Negligence Lead To A Fatal Accident?
  4. What Fatal Accident Compensation Could Be Awarded?
  5. Use A No Win No Fee Solicitor To Help With Your Fatal Accident Claim
  6. More Useful Resources About Fatal Accident Claims

When Can You Claim Compensation For A Wrongful Death?

If a loved one has suffered a fatal injury, the fatal accident claims eligibility criteria must be met in order to have a valid claim.

This means the following must be demonstrated:

  1. The deceased must have been owed a duty of care by a relevant third party at the time of the accident.
  2. This duty must have been breached.
  3. As a result of this breach, the deceased suffered their fatal injuries.

The above points define negligence in tort law.

Who Can Make Fatal Injury Claims?

For the first six months following the deceased’s death, the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 allows the estate of the deceased to claim compensation for the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased prior to their death. They are the only party who can make this type of claim. They can also bring forward a claim on behalf of the deceased’s dependents within this time.

However, if no claim has been made within 6 months dependents can make their own claim for how the death has impacted them under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (FAA). The following people qualify as a dependent under the FAA:

  • A husband, wife or civil partner of the deceased, current or former.
  • A person who cohabited with the deceased in the same household immediately prior to the death, cohabited in the same household for at least two years prior to their death, and was living for that whole period as husband, wife, or civil partner.
  • A parent or other ascendant of the deceased or someone treated as one, such as a step-parent.
  • A child, other descendant or someone who was treated as a child. This includes stepchildren, including those from previous marriages or civil partnerships if they were still treated as the deceased’s child.
  • The sister, brother, aunt, uncle or cousin of the deceased.

If you have any questions about which parties are eligible to bring forward fatal accident claims, you can contact a member of our advisory team. They are available 24 hours a day to offer you free advice.

How To Make Fatal Accident Claims

As part of the fatal accident claims process, you will need to assemble a body of supporting evidence. This evidence will be used to demonstrate how the deceased died, the fatal injuries they suffered, and who was liable.

We have detailed some examples of what evidence is needed for fatal accident claims here:

  • Request copies of the deceased’s medical records. These will show what injuries they sustained and the treatments they received prior to their death.
  • The results of a postmortem or inquest confirming the cause of death.
  • Photographs of the scene of the accident, or video footage such as from CCTV or dashcam devices, can be used to show what caused the accident and how it happened.
  • Acquire a copy of the report from the workplace accident book if the fatal accident occurred in the workplace.
  • A copy of a police report if they were called to the scene of the accident, such as after a road traffic collision.

Collecting evidence, especially after the loss of a loved one, can seem a complex task. That is why instructing one of the solicitors from our panel could benefit you as they could support you throughout this aspect of the claims process and ensure you build a strong case.

Contact our advisors today to see if you could be eligible to work with an expert solicitor from our panel today.

When Could Negligence Lead To A Fatal Accident?

A fatal accident could occur in a number of different circumstances, including accidents in the workplace, accidents in public places or fatal car accidents. However, the aforementioned fatal accident claims eligibility criteria must be met in order to have a valid claim.

In the sections below, we discuss the various scenarios where people are owed a duty of care and how a breach of this duty of care could result in a fatal accident.

Accidents at Work

Employers owe a duty of care to their employees to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of those employees while at work. This is established by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HASAWA). Britain’s independent regulator for health and safety in the workplace, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), publish extensive guidance on how employers can satisfy their obligations under HASAWA.

While what constitutes “reasonable steps” can vary between workplaces, examples can include completing thorough risk assessments and ensuring employees have the knowledge, training and protective clothing or equipment necessary to remove or minimise the risk of injury.

An example of an employer not upholding their duty of care could include a fatal warehouse accident caused by an employer failing to complete the necessary maintenance checks on a warehouse crane. The crane mechanism failed, and the load was dropped, resulting in a death at work as the employee was fatally crushed.

Road Traffic Accidents

All road users owe a collective duty of care to one another. They must use the roads in a manner that minimises the risk of causing harm or damage to other road users and themselves. This means adhering to the standards set out by both the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Highway Code.

An example of a fatal road traffic accident caused by a negligent road user could include where an individual is driving while under the influence of alcohol. The drunk driver hits a motorcyclist in a head-on collision resulting in a fatal motorcycle accident as a result.

A motorycle helmet and motorcycle laying on the road in front of a car.

Accidents In Public Places

The party in control of a public place is referred to as an “occupier.” Occupiers owe a duty of care under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 to take steps to ensure the reasonable safety of all visitors to their premises. Failure to do so could lead to a fatal accident in a public place.

As an example, the manager of a hotel had neglected to order maintenance checks in the hotel lounge, and consequently, a loose railing was not repaired. A hotel guest put their hand on the railing, and it gave way, resulting in them falling 4 floors. The guest suffered severe chest injuries as well as brain damage due to hitting their head in the fall and later died in hospital.

Medical Misdiagnosis

A duty of care is owed by all medical professionals to provide their patients with the correct standard of care. Medical negligence is when a medical professional fails to provide care at this standard and causes avoidable harm to their patient.

Misdiagnosing a serious health condition as something benign, for example, misdiagnosing lung cancer as a chest infection, could result in the death of the patient due to the cancer spreading and not receiving the correct treatment in time.

Not all misdiagnoses will form the basis of a valid claim, however, so please get in touch to discuss your specific case. An advisor can provide further guidance on fatal medical negligence claims as there may be some differences to personal injury claims.

What Is The Time Limit In Fatal Accident Claims?

The standard time limit for most fatal injury claims is 3 years from the date of death or from the date of knowledge. The latter can be formed on the date of a postmortem or the date of an inquest.

If you have any questions regarding the fatal accident claims process, or to see whether you may be eligible to make a claim on behalf of a deceased loved one, you can contact a member of our advisory team.

What Fatal Accident Compensation Could Be Awarded?

As previously mentioned, the estate of the deceased individual can make a claim for the pain and suffering of the deceased prior to their death.

Those calculating this payment may refer to the Judicial College as they would in a personal injury claim. This document provides compensation guidelines for various injuries at differing severities.

Compensation Table

We have used some of the JCG figures in our table. Please be advised that the JCG figures are guidelines only, and that all fatal accident claims are assessed on an individual basis.

We would also like to emphasise that the top entry is not a JCG figure.

InjurySeverityGuideline Compensation BracketsNotes
Death with add on claimsVery SevereUp to £550,000 and aboveCompensation for the deceased's pain and suffering in addition to dependency payments such as a loss of service or loss of earnings.
ParalysisTetraplegia£324,600 to £403,990Paralysis of the upper and lower extremities. The most serious cases would involve physical pain, and a significant impact on the senses and ability to communicate.
Paraplegia£219,070 to £284,260Lower limb paralysis. Factors such as extent of pain, life expectancy and age will affect the amount awarded.
Injury Resulting From Brain DamageVery Severe£282,010 to £403,990Little environmental response, or language function and double incontinence requiring full time nursing care.
Injuries Resulting in DeathFull Awareness£12,540 to £23,810There will be full awareness followed by fluctuating levels of consciousness for 4-5 weeks. Death will occur within a couple of weeks to 3 months.

Other Payments

There are other forms of compensation that could be claimed by the deceased’s dependents. These can include:

  • Funeral expenses. This could include the cost of the funeral service or a head stone.
  • Financial dependency payments. This covers a loss of the deceased’s past and future earnings if the family were financially dependent on their income.
  • Loss of services. If the deceased assisted with childcare or DIY around the home, this could be covered under a loss of services payment. However, it has to be quantified by a solicitor.
  • Loss of consortium. This refers to the loss of companionship and other losses that cannot be financially quantified anywhere else.

Additionally, Section 1A of the FAA states that certain qualifying relatives are eligible to receive a bereavement award. This is a lump sum of £15,120, and can be awarded to or split between:

  • The civil partner, wife or husband of the deceased.
  • A cohabiting partner of the deceased.
  • The parents if the deceased was an unmarried minor.
  • The mother if the deceased was an unmarried minor born out of wedlock.

You can learn more about how compensation in fatal accident claims is calculated by speaking to our advisory team. They can offer you free advice and answer any questions you may have about making a dependency claim.

Use A No Win No Fee Solicitor To Help With Your Fatal Accident Claim

If you are eligible to make a claim on behalf of a loved one who suffered fatal injuries, one of the solicitors on our panel may be able to support you with your case. Additionally, they may offer to work on the fatal injury claim under a Conditional Fee Agreement.

This is a specific type of No Win No Fee contract that means you will generally not incur a fee either at the start or during the claims process for the solicitor’s work. You also will not be expected to pay for the solicitor’s services if the claim ends unsuccessfully.

A successful claim will see you awarded with compensation. A percentage of this will go to the solicitor as their success fee. Due to there being a legal limit that this percentage can be, this means that the majority of the compensation you are awarded will stay with you.

A solicitor and their client discussing fatal accident claims sat at a desk with a set of scales and gavel hammer.

Contact Our Team

Get in touch with our advisors today to find out about the fatal accident claims process. They can help answer any questions you may have as well as offer you free advice.

Additionally, if you have a valid case, they could connect you with one of the fatal accident solicitors from our panel.

Speak to the team today by making an enquiry about your claim online via our form.

More Useful Resources About Fatal Accident Claims

Further guides by us about other types of claims:

We have also provided these external resources that you may find useful:

If you have any additional questions regarding the fatal accident claims process, you can contact a member of our advisory team today.