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  • £150,000 for the family of a loved one who sadly died following carbon monoxide poisoning Read More

The short answer:

The loss of a loved one following an accident or medical negligence can generate a mixture of emotions, including upset and distress as well as anger and dismay towards the wrongdoer. You may also be burdened by financial worry, both in respect of short-term expenses (such as funeral costs) and the long-term economic impact if you were financially dependent upon the deceased.

There are two routes to claiming compensation following a fatal accident:

1. Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 – where a claim is brought by the ‘estate’ of the deceased for losses suffered by the deceased between the date of his/her injury and the date of death.

2. Fatal Accidents Act 1976 – where a claim is brought by the ‘dependents’ of the deceased for losses relating to bereavement, loss of dependency and funeral expenses.

The long answer:

Following the untimely death of a loved one, the pursuit of compensation is unlikely to be the first thing on your mind. However, if the death has been caused or accelerated by the negligence of a third party, you may be entitled to financial redress to assist with the changing family circumstances and the financial pressure you may be experiencing.

Claim on behalf of the Estate

A claim for compensation that could have been brought by the deceased had they survived can, following their death, be brought by the Executor or Administrator of the estsate and on behalf of the estate.

Typically, compensation can be claimed in respect of:

1. The pain, suffering & loss of amenity experienced by the deceased between the date of injury and the date of death. The compensation will be calculated by reference to the Judicial College Guidelines (‘JC Guidelines’) and reported case law. Unfortunately, the compensation is rather modest considering the severity of the outcome.

The top bracket is £12,540 to £23,810 and this covers the situation where the injured person had full awareness of what happened to them for a short period followed by fluctuating levels of consciousness and death within a couple of weeks up to 3 months.

2. Financial losses incurred by the deceased between the date of injury and the date of death. For example, loss of earnings, medical expenses, care and assistance provided by friends and family, travel expenses, etc.

3. Funeral or cremation expenses.

Claim on behalf of dependants of the deceased

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 allows ‘dependents’ of a person who has died due to a wrongful act to make a claim for compensation in their own right (i.e. not on behalf of the estate). There are typically two awards of compensation available to dependents:

1. Bereavement Award – The wife, husband, civil partner, cohabiting partner or parent of the deceased are able to claim a bereavement award. This award is currently fixed at £15,120 and, if more than one party qualifies for this award, the total will be shared between all eligible parties. The aim of this award is to compensate the dependent(s) for the loss of the intangible benefit of having their loved one in their life.

2. Loss of dependency award – Compensation is awarded where a dependant is able to show that, had their relative not passed away, they had a ‘reasonable expectation’ that they would benefit from that relative’s income and/or provision of services. The aim of this award is to ensure that, so far as possible, the standard of living of the dependents will be roughly the same as it would have been had their loved one not passed away.

a) Dependency on earnings/income – At the time of death, the deceased may have been personally contributing to the household income through various sources (e.g. income from a business, employment, state benefits, pension). Where the deceased was part of a family unit (whether consisting of a partner or a partner and children), compensation for the loss of dependency on the deceased earnings/income may be recoverable. The calculation of compensation can be complicated and depends upon the factual circumstances of each case. The calculation is made by reference to:

i. The total annual income of the deceased and the dependent (spouse) at the time of death.
ii. The possible future variations in household income (e.g. promotions, retirement).
iii. Whether there are children within the household and when such children will turn 18 years.
iv. The age of the deceased and the dependents and their respective life expectancy (in the absence of negligence)

b) Dependency on services – Where the deceased provided services (such as childcare, household chores, DIY, gardening), the dependent may be able to recover compensation. The compensation award is typically calculated by reference to the annual cost of continuing to receive the service at the commercial rate until such time the deceased would have carried on providing the service in the absence of their death.

  • Case Study

    £15,000 for the family of a suicide victim

    Mr J, who had a history of mental health issues, sought help at A&E due to his deteriorating mental state and suicidal thoughts.

    Despite the mental health team’s identification of Mr J as high-risk and their recommendation for hospital admission for further care, the Crisis and Home Treatment team opted for home treatment.

    Unfortunately, shortly after being discharged, Mr J harmed himself, leading to his eventual death in the hospital.

    The family initially sought guidance from Aston Knight Solicitors for representation at Mr J’s inquest.

    Legal aid funding was promptly secured for the family, and representation at the inquest was agreed upon. An Article 2 Inquest was pursued, typically used when a person dies under state care or protection.

    During the inquest, the Coroner noted that the failure to admit Mr J to the hospital missed an opportunity to provide necessary treatment, potentially averting his death.

    Following the inquest, the family continued to be represented in a civil action against the relevant NHS Trust, resulting in a £15,000 settlement.

    It is important to mention that Mr J did not have any dependents, affecting the final settlement amount. Settlements are typically higher when dependents are involved, allowing for recovery of ongoing financial losses due to the death.

    View all success stories

Contacting Aston Knight Solicitors

If you have lost a loved one following an accident or medical negligence and you would like a free consultation to discuss your options, please call Aston Knight Solicitors today on 0161 399 1231 or click the ‘Contact’ button above to submit an online enquiry and one of our dedicated Solicitors will contact you to discuss your claim further.

Andrew Thompson (Senior Solicitor)

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