Limitation In Fatal Accident Claims – How Long Do I Have To Claim?

If a relative has been involved in an accidental death, you may be wondering what the time limitation is for fatal accident claims.

This article can help you figure out how long you could have to start a claim. 

When a loved one passes away after an accident, you may not immediately think about claiming compensation. However, you should know that you only have a certain amount of time after the death in which to start your claim. 

This guide will also look at how long you might have to claim if your relative died due to a criminal injury. There are also some exceptions to time limitations in fatal accident claims, and we will look at these in more detail.

Read on to find out more about the time limitation in fatal accident claims and how long you might have to start your claim. You can also contact our team of advisors about your case directly, and they can provide you with free legal advice. If you have strong grounds for a claim, they could connect you to a solicitor from our panel who can help you start your fatal accident claim. 

limitation in fatal accident claims

 Select A Section

  1. What Is The Limitation In Fatal Accident Claims?
  2. Limitation In Fatal Accident Claims Involving Under 18s
  3. Limitation In Fatal Accident Claims Involving Those With Mental Disabilities
  4. The Steps To Making A Fatal Accident Claim
  5. Criminal Injury Claim Time Limits
  6. Calculating Fatal Accident Claim Payouts
  7. Get Help From A No Win No Fee Solicitor

What Is The Limitation In Fatal Accident Claims?

For any type of claim, there is a limit to how long you can wait before starting your claim. Many of these time limitations are outlined in the Limitation Act 1980. If you do not start your claim within this time period, you may be unable to claim compensation at all. However, there are a few exceptions to these rules, which this guide will look at in more detail later. 

The time limitation in fatal accident claims is generally 3 years from the date of death or from the date the death was linked to the negligence of a party that had owed the deceased a duty of care. 

In some cases, the victim may not have died immediately after the accident or negligence. If they died within 3 years, the time limit for relatives to claim would start from the date they died, rather than the date of their accident. 

This is similar to if the death was caused by medical negligence. This is because the deceased may not have been aware that any symptoms were related to the negligence until many years later. When this happens, relatives may have 3 years from the date of death to claim.

However, in some instances, a person may have been aware of their injuries in the period between the accident and their death. If they did not start a personal injury claim for themselves in that time and then passed away more than 3 years later, a relative would struggle to start a claim. 

If you want to know if you’re still eligible to start a claim, you could contact our advisors today for more information. 

Limitation In Fatal Accident Claims Involving Under 18s

If a child has lost a relative, they could still potentially make a fatal injury claim. However, the typical time limitation in fatal accident claims does not apply. 

If a child, or someone under the age of 18, wishes to make a claim, they have up until they turn 18 to have a litigation friend do so on their behalf. After they turn 18, the usual 3 years then apply. 

It is important to note that a minor under 18 cannot legally represent themselves in civil proceedings. For this reason, they would need a litigation friend to represent them. A litigation friend could be any eligible adult that can be relied upon to make decisions in the claimant’s best interests. 

They need to apply to the court, who would then do checks to ensure that person is suitable enough to represent the minor in their claim. If nobody else is suitable, the Official Solicitor could act as a litigation friend. 

Contact us today to find out more about litigation friends and how a minor could claim. 

Limitation In Fatal Accident Claims Involving Those With Mental Disabilities

If someone with mental disabilities loses someone in a fatal accident, they could potentially experience a drastic loss of care and service that could negatively affect their quality of life. If this happens, it is still possible for them to claim compensation. However, they would need a litigation friend to represent them, similar to when the claimant is a minor. 

The time limitation in fatal accident claims also works slightly differently for anyone who does not have the mental capacity to claim for themselves. In these cases, the time limitation is suspended indefinitely. 

Someone who lacks the mental capacity to claim could potentially have a litigation friend start a claim on their behalf at any time up until the point they have recovered, if applicable. If they have recovered, they then have the same 3 years to start their claim from the date of recovery. 

If you would like to know more about how someone with a mental disability could potentially claim, get in touch with us now. 

The Steps To Making A Fatal Accident Claim

Providing sufficient evidence in fatal accident claims could help demonstrate that the deceased was owed a duty of care, and when this was breached, they suffered fatal injuries.

Evidence that could be used to help support a fatal accident claim includes:

  • The coroner’s report or details of a post-mortem or inquest.
  • A copy of the deceased’s medical records that show the nature of the injuries they suffered.
  • Footage of the accident, such as from CCTV or a dashcam.
  • Accident photographs. For example, if your loved one suffered a fatal injury in a car accident, you could photograph damage to the vehicle.
  • The contact information of any witnesses to the fatal accident so they can give a statement at a later date.

If you need any more information about making a claim for fatal accident compensation, get in touch with our advisors for free advice. They can help you with your next steps.

Criminal Injury Claim Time Limits

If a close relative has died as a result of a violent crime, the claims process works differently. You would likely claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) in these cases. This government agency aims to compensate victims of violent crime

If you want to start a claim through the CICA, you must first report the crime to the police if it’s not already been reported. It is also recommended that you make a compensation claim as soon as possible. However, as an adult, this should be no more than 2 years after the incident occurred. The CICA does make exceptions to this rule in some circumstances. 


Exceptions could be applicable if you could not make an application earlier due to exceptional circumstances. However, you’d need evidence to support this.

There are also exceptions made for those who were under 18 at the time of the incident. If the incident was reported to the police before the claimant turned 18 and a claim was not started on their behalf, they could still claim from the date of their 18th birthday. They would have until their 20th birthday.

However, if the incident was not reported when the person was a minor, the claimant could apply within 2 years of telling the police. 

In either case, enough supporting evidence must be provided so that a claims officer can make a decision without further enquiry. You may also be asked to provide evidence for why you could not make an application earlier. 

You can check information from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme to find out how much you could claim for a fatal criminal injury. This includes a tariff of injuries with set figures of how much you could claim. 

Calculating Fatal Accident Claim Payouts

This section includes a table of potential compensation amounts for accidental death. These figures are calculated from past case studies and are taken from the Judicial College Guidelines. Legal professionals use this document to help value the general damages element of a claim. This aims to compensate for the pain and suffering your loved one experienced before their passing, caused by the accident. 


Injury Severity Amount Notes
Death and losses Over £500,000 Loss of earnings, pension and other financial losses, as well as compensation for the pain and suffering of the deceased
Death Full Awareness £11,770 to £22,350 Severe burns or lung damage may have been followed by full awareness for a short period. Consciousness will have fluctuated for 4-5 weeks and there will have been extensive treatments. Death will have occurred within a couple of weeks or up to 3 months.
Death Followed by Unconsciousness £9,870 to £10,010 Lung damage or extreme burns that caused serious pain followed by unconsciousness after 3 hours and death within 2 weeks.
Death Immediate Unconcsiousness (i) £3,530 to £4,120 If the deceased was unconscious immediately after the accident. Death will have been after 6 weeks.
Death Immediate Unconcsiousness (ii) £1,290 to £2,620 The deceased fell unconscious shortly after the accident and death followed within a week. If they died within the same day, the compensation will likely be less.
Death Mental Anguish £4,380 There is a fear of impending death or a reduction in life expectancy.

To discover more about fatal accident compensation payouts, click here to read our guide.

Fatal Accident Claims – What Are Special Damages?

As you can see in the table above, you can claim on behalf of the deceased for their pain and suffering, even if your loved one’s death was an accident. However, in fatal accident claims, other compensation could also be awarded as part of the same claim.

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, certain qualifying relatives may be entitled to a bereavement award of £15,120. If more than one relative claims, this will be split. Qualifying relatives include:

  • Civil partner or spouse.
  • A person cohabiting with the deceased for at least two years prior to their death as if they were husband and wife.
  • Parents of unmarried minors or the mother of the deceased if they were an unmarried minor born out of wedlock.

You may also be able to recover funeral costs. Additionally, an award could be made for the impact that the loss of the deceased’s income has caused. The impact of the deceased’s loss on companionship and family relationships may also be included in the claim. There may also be an award for the loss of service. For example, if the deceased carried out DIY and you now need to hire a handyman to provide those services.

If you lost your loved one in a fatal accident, call our advisors for free legal advice. They’re here to help you with your legal problems without an obligation to proceed with a claim.

Get Help From A No Win No Fee Solicitor

Hopefully, you now feel that you better understand the time limitation in fatal accident claims. However, you may still be holding back from starting a claim if you are concerned about funding the services of a solicitor. 

You should know that the solicitors on our panel offer their services on a No Win No Fee basis. This means you don’t need to be concerned about any upfront or ongoing solicitor fees attached to your claim. A No Win No Fee agreement also means you would not be required to pay your solicitor if your claim is unsuccessful. 

Your solicitor would deduct a success fee from your compensation amount if your case does succeed. This will only be deducted once your compensation is fully paid and it’s capped by law. This legal cap means your solicitor is not allowed to charge over a certain percentage so the majority of your compensation stays with you.

If a No Win No Fee agreement sounds like it could work for you, get in touch with our team of advisors today. If you have a valid claim, they could pass you on to a fatal accident solicitor from our panel, who could help you start your claim within the time limitation. 

Fatal Accident Claim Resources

Thank you for reading our guide on the time limitation in fatal accident claims. We hope you found it helpful. Please see below for more relevant resources. 

How to Find Criminal Injury Lawyers – If you want to find a criminal injury lawyer for your claim, this guide could help you. 

Manslaughter and Murder Compensation Claims – Read our article to find out more about how to claim if a relative was murdered or the victim of manslaughter.

Should I Accept Compensation Without a Solicitor? – If you’ve been offered compensation without a solicitor, you may be wondering whether you should accept. Our guide can help you. 

Grief Encounter – A registered charity with the mission to support children and young people after the death of a loved one. 

Young People and Bereavement – This NHS page explains how bereavement could affect a young person. 

Mental Health UK  – This registered charity aims to support those struggling with their mental health. If you’re struggling after losing a loved one, this charity could help you. 

Thank you for reading our guide on the time limitation in fatal accident claims.