Pursuing Claims Under The Fatal Accidents Act 1976

By Lewis Houston. Last Updated 28th September 2023. Have you suffered the loss of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence? This can be traumatising and confusing. Furthermore, you may not be sure how to handle the physical, financial, and psychological damage you might suffer from afterwards. If this sounds like your situation, this guide will explore fatal accident claims as you may be entitled to compensation. 

Seeking compensation won’t necessarily take away your pain and suffering or speed up the grieving process, but it can make everyday life a little easier. For example, compensation could help you pay the funeral costs for your lost loved one. 

If you’d like to have a chat with one of our friendly advisers, you can contact them today. They’re available 24/7 and are experts at advising on fatal accident claims. They can assess how much compensation you may be entitled to and explore your next steps.

If your claim is valid, they can connect you to an experienced fatal accident lawyer from our panel to discuss No Win No agreements with you. Our panel of fatal accident solicitors would work with you in a sensitive and sympathetic way, offering legal support throughout the whole claims process and seeking the most amount of compensation you could be owed.

Our advisers are available on:

  • 0800 408 7825 where you can then ring them and chat about your situation.
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fatal accident claims

A guide to fatal accident claims

Select A Section

  1. What Is The Fatal Accidents Act 1976?
  2. When Could You Make Fatal Accident Claims?
  3. How Do You Pursue Fatal Accident Claims?
  4. Types Of Damages Which Could Be Claimed
  5. What Could Be Awarded For Fatal Accident Claims?
  6. Contact Us About No Win No Fee Fatal Accident Claims

What Is The Fatal Accidents Act 1976?

If your loved one died in a fatal accident, you could act on their behalf to claim compensation. Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, certain relatives can make a compensation claim for the impact the death had on them. These relatives include:

  • The deceased’s spouse or civil partner (current or former). 
  • Someone who resided with the deceased for two years prior to their passing as if they were spouses. 
  • Parent(s), stepparent or anyone the deceased treated as a parent. 
  • Child, stepchild or someone treated as a child by the deceased, such as stepchildren from a previous marriage or civil partnership. 
  • The deceased’s siblings, uncle or aunt, or cousins. 

In addition to claiming for the impact of the death, such as the loss of your loved one’s wage that may have supported you financially, certain relatives may be entitled to a bereavement award under section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act. This is set at £15,120. However, the amount will be split if more than one relative claims it. These relatives include:

  • The deceased’s spouse, civil partner or co-habiting partner. 
  • The parents of the deceased if they were an unmarried child, or their mother if they were an unmarried minor born outside of wedlock. 

In addition to being a qualifying relative, the circumstances of your loved one’s passing must meet certain eligibility criteria for you to make a fatal accident claim on their behalf. We explain this in the next section. If you have any questions or would like to discuss whether you are a qualifying relative, please speak with an advisor from our team.

When Could You Make Fatal Accident Claims?

If your loved one died due to someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to make a fatal accident claim. However, the way the claim is made can be affected by how the death occurred. For example, if your loved one died in a road traffic accident, you could make a personal injury claim. 

On the other hand, if your loved one was murdered, this could lead to a criminal injury claim. This means you could seek compensation directly against the perpetrator or via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). If you claim directly against the assailant, you must be able to identify the assailant and they must have the means to cover your compensation. 

Causes Of Death

Here are some examples of how someone could die in an accident or due to negligence:

  • Medical negligence – Your loved one may have passed away due to medical negligence. An example of this could be if a medical professional provided care that is below standard, causing your loved one to pass. For instance, a medical professional may neglect to check the patient’s records and miss that they have an allergy. If they then prescribe medication containing the allergy and it causes a fatal allergic reaction, this could be seen as medical negligence. 
  • Road traffic accident – If a loved one’s death occurred due to a road traffic accident, you may be able to pursue a road traffic accident claim. 
  • Murder – If your loved one has been murdered, you may be able to make a criminal injury claim. The process is slightly different to that of personal injury claims but a solicitor can help you with this. 

What Is The Time Limit For Fatal Accident Claims?

Under the Fatal Accidents Act, only the deceased’s estate can claim within the first six months of the fatal accident. The Act allows the estate to claim general damages for the deceased and other payouts for the dependents.

However, if the estate does not bring forward a claim on behalf of the dependents, they can bring forward a claim for themselves after the first six months. According to the Limitation Act 1980, fatal accident claims must typically be started within three years of the death.

There are some exceptions to these time limits. To learn more about this, we recommend you contact our expert advisors for free advice surrounding the fatal accident claims time limit.

How Do You Pursue Fatal Accident Claims?

There are various daily situations that could result in a fatal injury should a liable party fail to adhere to the correct legislation. These include:

  • While in a public place. The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 imposes a duty of care on anyone using a public space as intended. This means that the organisation or individual in control of that space must ensure the reasonable safety of those using it. 
  • While at work. Under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HASAWA) employers owe their employees a duty of care. This means that employers must take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their workforce. 
  • While using the roads. Road users must navigate in a way that prevents injury and damage to themselves and others. This is their duty of care. As part of this duty, they should adhere to the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Highway Code.  

In order to have valid grounds to make a fatal accident claim on behalf of your loved one, you must be able to satisfy the eligibility criteria. This means that you must prove that:

  • The deceased was owed a duty of care. 
  • This duty was breached. 
  • They suffered fatal injuries as a result of this breach.  

If you have any questions about the eligibility criteria for fatal accident claims, speak with one of our advisors. They can provide a free claim assessment.

Types Of Damages Which Could Be Claimed

There are multiple types of compensation that could be claimed for a fatal accident.

Loss Of Dependency

You may be entitled to compensation for a loss of dependency after your loved one has passed. This could include services dependency, financial dependency, or loss of consortium.

Services Dependency

You could be owed compensation for services dependency if your loved one took care of you or your children.

Financial Dependency

You may have lived with the deceased and relied on their income that has now been taken away. This is usually calculated from the date your loved one passed away to the date of the claim. After this, you could also be compensated for a loss of future financial dependency. This could happen if you would’ve relied on their financial income in the future too.

Loss Of Consortium

This includes a child suffering the death of a parent or a spouse losing their husband or wife. 

Funeral Costs

You may be entitled to compensation if you have to pay for funeral costs. 

Fatal Accidents Act Bereavement Award

The Damages for Bereavement (Variation of Sum) (England and Wales) Order 2020 recently updated the amount that relatives can claim for the death of a loved one caused by negligence. The sum stands at £15,120. This can be added to the compensation for the loved one’s suffering prior to death, special damages and the above expenses where applicable.

What Could Be Awarded For Fatal Accident Claims?

The below compensation table includes figures from the Judicial Compensation Guidelines (JCG). The JCG is a publication that solicitors use to value injuries. Our table below aims to illustrate potential compensation award brackets for various injuries. 

Injury Details Potential Compensation
Fatality and claim add-ons Includes compensation for the deceased’s pain and suffering in addition to losses impacting the dependants, such as lost wages. Up to and above £550,000
Tetraplegia (Quadriplegia) The award considers the deceased’s level of awareness, physical pain, ability to communicate and mental health. £324,600 to
Paraplegia As with tetraplegia, the award considers the deceased’s level of awareness, physical pain and ability to communicate as well as their mental health. It also considers whether the paralysis is increasing. £219,070 to £284,260
Very Severe Brain Damage Although the deceased may have been able to follow some basic commands, there was little to no meaningful response to their environment and they required full time nursing care. £282,010 to £403,990
Severe Psychological Damage Prior to their passing, the fatal accident resulted in an inability to cope with their life and relationships. £54,830 to £115,730
Death With Full Awareness The injured party experiences full awareness and then fluctuating levels of consciousness for between 4-5 weeks alongside intrusive treatment or significant injuries. Death occurs within a couple of weeks or up to 3 months after the injuries. £12,540 to £23,810

The figures above demonstrate general damages. This is compensation for your psychological and physical injuries. Compensation depends on factors such as how severe symptoms are, how quick death/unconsciousness is and how helpful treatment is in prolonging life expectancy.

You could also claim special damagesSpecial damages offer compensation for the financial issues that arose as a result of the accident or incident caused by another party’s negligence. An example of this could be if you paid out of pocket for care costs or experienced a loss of earnings.

In order to prove special damages, you’d need to supply evidence such as payslips, invoices or prescriptions.

Contact Us About No Win No Fee Fatal Accident Claims 

Ahead of claiming compensation under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, you might benefit from the expertise and knowledge of our panel of lawyers. With experience in dealing with fatal accident claims, they’ll be able to guide you through the different stages of the process involved in seeking compensation.

Additionally, they may be able to offer you a Conditional Fee Agreement, which is a type of No Win No Fee agreement. Generally, working with a solicitor on this basis means if your claim is not successful, you don’t pay them for their services. They usually won’t ask for an upfront fee or ongoing payments for their work either. 

The percentage your lawyer takes if your fatal accident claim is successful is referred to as a success fee and is taken from your compensation. You won’t be overcharged for this fee as the Conditional Fee Agreements Order 2013 subjects it to a cap. 

If you have any questions about connecting with an experienced lawyer from our panel, you can get in touch via the following methods:

  • Call for free on 0800 408 7825
  • Chat to an advisor via the live chat function
  • Fill out our contact form 

Victim Support And Resources 

Public Road Motorcycle Accident Claim – You can discover more guidance about No Win No Fee agreements in our motorcycle accident claims article. 

What Is The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)? – If your fatal accident claim includes a criminal injury, you can read our guide.

How To Claim Compensation For An Accident Or Injury – Our guide explores how you may be able to make a personal injury claim or fatal accident claim if you or a loved one has suffered an injury or death.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) – You can find out more about how to make a claim through the CICA here if you or a loved one has suffered a fatal criminal injury.  

What To Do When Someone Dies – This page offers help and guidance about what you can do in the aftermath of a loved one’s death.

Grief After Bereavement Or Loss – This NHS page explains how you can handle bereavement and what feelings you may be experiencing. 

Thank you for looking through our guide about fatal accident claims.