Fatal accidents and Inquests
Conduct of claims involving fatal injury
Generally speaking any claim for compensation relating to an injured party who has died will be pursued by their personal representatives. The personal representatives will pursue any claim on behalf of the estate of the deceased and on behalf of any dependants of the deceased. Where no claim is pursued by the personal representatives a claim may be pursued by any dependants.
In cases where the injuries have proved fatal the bereaved family may need representation at an Inquest in order to properly investigate the circumstances of the death.
Representation at Inquests is another service we can provide.
Fatal accident compensation – how is it assessed?
Where a Defendant’s negligence has given rise to a fatal injury the possible heads of loss include:
- financial loss incurred by the deceased prior to their death
- compensation for the pain and suffering of the deceased arising before the death
- funeral expenses
- bereavement damages
- a dependency claim for financial losses suffered by the deceased’s dependants
So far as bereavement damages are concerned, the level of award is fixed by statute and is currently fixed at £11,800.00 (increasing to £12,980.00 from 1 April 2012). The bereavement payment can only be claimed by a deceased person’s spouse or (if the deceased was unmarried and under the age of eighteen) the deceased’s parents.
A dependency claim can be brought by certain categories of relatives. The definition of a dependant is fairly wide and can include parents, grandparents, children, spouses and ex spouses. It can include a “common law spouse” but he or she must have been living with the deceased for at least 2 years prior to the injury being sustained by the deceased. The claim that can be brought by any dependant is for any loss of monetary benefit which would have been anticipated had the deceased lived and which arose in consequence of the relationship between the dependant and the deceased.
It is important to bear in mind that if it is necessary to start court proceedings, to pursue a claim for compensation for personal injuries, the general rule is that proceedings must be started before the end of the limitation period.
The limitation period generally expires three years after the cause of action arises i.e. the date of the alleged negligence. Failure to start proceedings within the limitation period is likely to lead to the claim being statue barred and in those circumstances it would not be possible to pursue the claim whatever its merits.
Where fatal injury has been sustained then so long as the limitation period has not expired at the time of the deceased’s death the limitation period for any claim that might be pursued on behalf of the Estate or any dependants will run for a further 3 years from the date of the deceased’s death.
Please contact us if you would like any further details of the assistance we can offer.