Claiming compensation after losing a loved one in an accident
If you lose a loved one in an accident, claiming compensation is likely to be the last thing on your mind but can be crucial in preventing future financial difficulties. Coodes Solicitors’ Personal Injury lawyer Catherine Hyde comments.
It is impossible to put into words the pain and grief that is caused by losing a loved one in an accident. At such a distressing time, the family finances are likely to be very far down your list of concerns. However, the repercussions on the wellbeing of the whole family do need to be considered and compensation can help to relieve some of the pressure.
Seek help quickly after your loss
Fatal accidents can occur suddenly and unexpectedly in many situations, including at work and on the roads. If you have lost a loved one in an accident that was not their fault you may be entitled to compensation. While this will in no way make up for the devastating loss you have experienced, it could help to ease the future financial burden on you and the rest of your family.
In most cases, you have three years from the date of the accident to pursue a claim, though there are some exceptions. We would encourage you to seek legal advice at the earliest possible stage as this generally gives you the best chance of successfully making a claim and also means our specialist Personal Injury team can offer additional guidance, such as supporting you through any pre-inquest hearings and the final inquest.
Attending an inquest following the loss of a loved one
It is fairly common for an inquest to be held to establish the causes of a fatal accident. Attending an inquest following the loss of a family member is a daunting prospect. It is an opportunity to get answers to important questions, but many people are unsure how to prepare or what they should – and can – ask on the day.
That is why we offer clients advice and support ahead of and during an inquest. We attend many inquests with our clients, ensuring their voices are heard and that they have the opportunity to ask the questions that are important to them. This is also an opportunity for us to gather crucial information and evidence in support of your case.
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Claiming compensation if your family has lost its main breadwinner
If you have lost the family’s main breadwinner, the long-term effects of an accident can be financially crippling. Loss of income and care provision are taken into account when compensation is awarded. This is why dependants, including spouses or children, are often awarded large sums, following a fatal accident.
Some people, including spouses, civil partners and parents of children under 18, are also eligible for statutory bereavement award, which is currently £12,980.
The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 defines dependants as:
- The wife or husband or former wife or husband of the deceased
- The civil partner or former civil partner of the deceased
- Any person who
- Was living with the deceased in the same household immediately before the date of the death; and
- Had been living with the deceased in the same household for at least two years before that date; and
- Was living during the whole of that period as the husband or wife (or civil partner) of the deceased
- Any parent or other ascendant of the deceased
- Any person who was treated by the deceased as his parent
- Any child or other descendant of the deceased
- Any person (not being a child of the deceased) who, in the case of any marriage to which the deceased was at any time a party, was treated by the deceased as a child of the family in relation to that marriage
- Any person (not being a child of the deceased) who, in the case of any civil partnership in which the deceased was at any time a civil partner, was treated by the deceased as a child of the family in relation to that civil partnership
- Any person who is, or is the issue of, a brother, sister, uncle or aunt of the deceased
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Anyone falling into any of these categories may be able to pursue a fatal accident compensation claim if they can prove that they were in some way dependant on the person who has passed away. We can discuss your situation with you to establish whether or not you are eligible.
If you are in this situation then you need specialist legal advice from an experienced lawyer who understands these complex and sensitive cases. Our APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) accredited personal injury lawyers have extensive experience of supporting families through these claims. We understand that winning compensation will not take away the pain, but it may ease the additional financial burden.