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Fatal Accidents: How Do Fatal Accident Claims Work?

18th September 2009
By Jessica Parker in Accident claims
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The death of a family member is probably the worst thing any one of us will have to endure. If the death was the result of a fatal accident, the shock and grief of a sudden, unexpected death will be very difficult to recover from.

When a family member dies suddenly, there is a huge amount to come to terms with and life will change forever. Many people struggle not just emotionally, but financially, too. This is the case particularly if the deceased person had been the major breadwinner of the family.

How a fatal accident can happen

Fatal accidents can happen in many different situations. Often claims are made following a fatal accident at work, on the road, in military operations or due to medical negligence.

Can I make a fatal accident claim?

If the fatal accident occurred as a result of the negligence or wrongful act of someone else, family members are entitled to make a claim against them. This can help alleviate some of the financial burdens they are facing, and may also prevent the same kind of accident happening to someone else in the future.

How fatal accident claims work

There are two main parts to a fatal accident claim – the dependents’ claim(s) and the victim’s claim - as well as a statutory award for bereavement which is paid separately.

Dependents’ claims

If one or more family members, including husband, wife, former husband or wife and cohabiters living as husband or wife for at least two years, child, grandchild, parent or guardian, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle or child of brother, sister, aunt or uncle, were financially supported by the fatal accident victim when they were alive, they can claim for the loss of that financial support.

Victim’s claim

If it can be shown that the victim endured physical or emotional pain or distress as a result of the accident before they died, compensation will be awarded for this. In addition, any financial loss the victim suffered following the accident will be compensated for. However, is the death happened instantly then neither of these will be the case and there will not be a claim for the victim.

Statutory bereavement award

As well as the dependents’ claims and the victim’s claim, there is a statutory award for bereavement. This is an additional damages payment which is a set sum to be paid when a fatal accident was caused by somebody else. The amount increased from £10,000 to £11,800 for deaths occurring after January 1, 2008.

If the fatal accident claim is successful, this sum must be paid by the negligent party, regardless of loss of earnings and the pain and suffering of the victim.

Making a fatal accident claim

If the fatal accident of a member of your family happened as a result of the negligence of someone else, you may be able to claim against them. Fatal accident claims work on a no win no fee basis, meaning that if you win, there will be no cost to you personally.
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