When somebody close to you suffers a fatal injury, it can be difficult to consider possible legal proceedings. However, if you are the dependent of somebody who has been fatally injured in an accident that was not their fault, you may be entitled to compensation for the loss of their financial support*.
The loss of a loved one in a fatal accident can never be compensated for, but dependents can ease their financial burden through the fatal accidents claims process.
If a person’s death cannot be explained, an inquest may be held to establish where and how the death happened. An inquest is an official, public enquiry, led by the Coroner and sometimes involving a jury that investigates the cause of a sudden, unexplained or violent death. It usually is not necessary if a post-mortem examination of the body can explain the cause of death. Section 17 of the Coroners Act 1962 covers the legal provisions for inquests.
At least six weeks must elapse after a death before an inquest can be held. Witnesses may need to attend to testify on the circumstances and cause of the death. If a jury is present, they will deliver the verdict (not the Coroner). Jury service at an inquest is obligatory and a verdict is reached via a majority. Guilt or innocence is not established at an inquest, and no criminal or civil liability is determined.
Inquests are usually held in a courthouse, and the deceased’s family are not legally required to attend or have legal representation. However, if the family is taking a legal action, they may engage a solicitor to attend the inquest and take relevant notes.
Verdicts that can be declared by the Coroner or jury include:
- Accidental death
- Open verdict
- Natural causes
- Unlawful killing
How does a claim arise?
If you are the dependent of somebody who died in a fatal road accident as a result of the wrongful acts of another person, you may be entitled to bring a fatal accident claim against that wrongdoer.
Part 4 of the Civil Liability Act, 1961 states that one claim alone may be brought against the same person in respect of the death. The claim must be made on behalf of all the deceased’s dependants. If you think you may be eligible to make a fatal accident claim, you should contact a personal injury solicitor.
An important element of any personal injury claim is to gather evidence of the damage caused. This is usually in the form of medical records or a report from a medical practitioner supporting the claim.
If you are financially dependent on somebody who died in a fatal accident at work, you have two years from the date of death to bring forward legal proceedings to seek a fatal accident claim. In cases where there was contributory negligence (in other words, the deceased person is found to have contributed to their own death), an amount will be deducted from your compensation. This decision is made at the discretion of the court and depends on the circumstances of each individual case. To be successful in your claim, you must have depended on the deceased for financial support, have suffered financially and emotionally due to the fatal accident, and be related to the deceased.
When someone dies in an accident abroad, family members and loved ones endure great trauma and distress. This cannot be underestimated, but a fatal accident abroad claim can provide financial compensation to cover some of the costs involved.
It is difficult to know where to turn in a situation like this, but a personal injury solicitor can provide guidance. They will treat you with the utmost sensitivity and ensure that wrongdoers will be held to account if the fatal accident abroad was caused by the actions or negligence of another party.
What is the process of bringing a claim?
In order to proceed with a case, the claim must be submitted to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board. Once the claim is submitted, the defendant is given an opportunity to consent to the injuries board assessing the claim or consent to the injuries board issuing an authorisation to permit the next of kin to issue proceedings.
Who are the next of kin?
Next of kin can be defined as including the deceased’s own family, spouse, partner, and children. In some cases, the next of kin definition extends to civil partner, grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, and stepchildren.
What can you claim for?
A fatal injury claim includes several headings, and we can advise you on these. In general, they are as follows:
- Solatium fee: This is the figure to be shared among the next of kin.
- Financial loss/loss of earnings into future: This will be claimed for any dependent who was financially dependent on the deceased at the time of death. We engage with you and our own panel of accountants to prepare a report setting out the financial loss that will be incurred into the future following the death of the deceased.
- Childcare: This applies if the deceased was looking after the children on a full-time basis
- Loss of services: This is relevant if the deceased contributed to repairs in the home or other services.
The legal representative of the deceased has two years from the date of death to submit the claim to the injuries board. Please contact our team to discuss your personal circumstances confidentially.