Category Archives: Death by Dangerous driving

What Are Loss Of Intangible Benefits In Fatal Accident Claims?

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, claims for loss of intangible benefits relate to the non-economic losses that dependents of the deceased have to endure following the death of a loved one due to another’s negligence or wrongful act. These intangible benefits, often termed “loss of dependency,” encompass various non-financial aspects that the deceased would have provided to their dependents.

Here’s a breakdown of what this loss of intangible benefits encompass:

Loss of Intangible Benefits – The Claim

Loss of Care and Guidance: This covers the emotional and psychological support the deceased would have given to family members. For instance, a child losing a parent may claim for the loss of parental guidance, advice, and affection.

Loss of Consortium: For a surviving spouse or partner, this includes the companionship, love, and affection that the deceased would have continued to provide. It also encompasses the loss of shared household responsibilities and intimate relations.

Loss of Society: This pertains to the general enjoyment of life and social interactions the deceased would have offered to family members. It includes the everyday interactions, companionship, and presence that contribute to the quality of family life.

Legal Framework

Under the Act, specific categories of dependents are entitled to claim for these losses, including spouses, civil partners, children, parents, and other close relatives who were financially dependent on the deceased. The claim aims to compensate for the non-economic detriment suffered by these individuals.

Assessment of Compensation
Calculating compensation for intangible losses can be complex. Courts consider various factors such as the age of the deceased, the nature of the relationship with the claimant, and the extent of dependency. While financial losses can be quantified relatively straightforwardly, intangible losses require a more nuanced evaluation to reflect the true impact on the dependents’ lives.

Case Law and Precedents
Judicial precedents play a crucial role in shaping how compensation for intangible losses is awarded. Courts often refer to previous cases to determine appropriate amounts, ensuring consistency and fairness in judgments. The subjective nature of these losses means that each case is evaluated on its own merits, with courts striving to balance equitable compensation with the realities of the loss experienced by the dependents.

In summary, claims for loss of intangible benefits under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 recognise the profound non-economic impacts of losing a loved one. These claims aim to provide fair compensation for the emotional and psychological void left by the deceased, acknowledging the crucial role they played in the lives of their dependents.

do you have any quantum awards to fit into this article?

Certainly. Including quantum awards helps illustrate the range of compensation awarded for intangible benefits under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. Here are some examples from case law to provide context:

Quantum Awards for Loss of Intangible Benefits
**Case: Kane v. New Forest District Council [2001]

Award: £10,000 (loss of guidance for each child)
Details: This case involved the death of a father in a car accident. The court awarded £10,000 to each of his young children for the loss of their father’s guidance and nurturing.
**Case: Hedley v. Cuthbertson [1997]

Award: £7,500 (loss of consortium for the spouse)
Details: The court awarded £7,500 to the widow for the loss of companionship, love, and affection from her deceased husband. The court recognised the emotional and social support that the deceased had provided.
**Case: Mullins v. Bell [2000]

Award: £5,000 (loss of society for parents)
Details: The parents of a young adult who died in a workplace accident received £5,000 each. The court acknowledged their loss of social interaction and enjoyment of family life due to their child’s untimely death.
**Case: Gammell v. Wilson [1982]

Award: £12,500 (combined loss for spouse and children)
Details: The widow and children of the deceased received a combined award for the loss of consortium and parental guidance. The award was divided among the dependents, reflecting the multifaceted nature of the deceased’s contributions.
**Case: Leach v. Whitbread [2001]

Award: £8,000 (loss of parental care)
Details: In this case, the court awarded £8,000 to a child who lost a parent. The compensation reflected the loss of parental care, guidance, and the emotional support the child would have continued to receive.
Considerations in Award Determination
When determining awards for loss of intangible benefits, courts take into account:

The age of the deceased and the dependents.
The nature and extent of the relationship between the deceased and the dependents.
The specific non-financial contributions made by the deceased.
The impact of the loss on the dependents’ lives.
These examples illustrate the range of compensation awarded for loss of intangible benefits under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. The courts strive to provide fair and reasonable compensation, acknowledging the profound emotional and psychological impacts of losing a loved one. While financial compensation cannot replace the lost presence and support, it aims to recognise and mitigate the intangible losses suffered by the dependents.

Including such quantum awards in your article will give readers a tangible understanding of how courts approach the valuation of non-economic losses and ensure that the information is both practical and authoritative.

Bereaved Parents Not Entitled to Compensation


As a solicitor that helps bereaved families get to the truth following the loss of a loved one due to unlawful killings, accidents on the road and at work, I am continuing to fight for justice but find that the Courts and successive Governments are not in tune with today’s society and thinking.  They are caught up in a time warp of outdated laws and attitudes that only apply more misery following the aftermath of losing a close family member such as child, wife, husband, partner, parents brother and sister.  So another judgement has recently been handed down that set the tone of things to come.

Wrongful Death Compensation in UK

Supreme Court’s Ruling Paul & others v Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust & Others

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling has concluded a significant legal debate on the extent of duty of care owed by medical professionals, not to the patients directly under their care, but to the close family members who suffer psychiatric illness as a result of witnessing their loved one’s distressing death due to medical negligence. This judgment, articulated through appeals involving varied circumstances of loss and psychological trauma, ultimately decided that the realm of medical professionals’ responsibilities does not extend to preventing such psychological harm to the patient’s family members.

Brief Facts About the Claim

In these three legal actions, each set of claimants seeks compensation under the negligence law for psychological distress experienced from observing a loved one’s death under harrowing conditions. Each incident of death is attributed to the alleged negligence of the involved medical professionals or health authorities, who are accused of failing to identify and manage a critical health issue.

The case titled “Paul” involves two young daughters who witnessed their father’s abrupt demise on a public road due to such a health crisis. In “Polmear,” the claimants are the bereaved parents who saw the heartrending passing of their young child. The “Purchase” case features a claimant who discovered her daughter under traumatic conditions shortly after she had passed away.

The defendants in each case sought to immediately dismiss the claims for compensation related to psychological harm, contending that even if the presented facts were accepted as true, the claims would legally be unable to proceed.

All lower courts and the Court of Appeal through various legal channels, setting the stage for further judicial examination of the claims following rejection and dismissal of all claims.  The matter was therefore given leave to the Supreme Court to decide finally on the law in this area.

Supreme Court’s Rational to Prevent Bereaved Claimants Making a Claim

Central to this decision is the distinction drawn between accidents and medical events. While the law has carved out exceptions for compensation in cases of psychiatric illness caused by witnessing accidents due to negligence, the Court firmly differentiated these scenarios from those involving the progression or outcome of medical conditions. The Court reasoned that accidents are sudden and identifiable events, whereas the development and manifestation of medical conditions can span a significant period, making the witnessing of these events and their impact on observers highly variable.

This perspective underscores a broader philosophical and legal discourse on the nature of duty, care, and the boundaries of liability. It reflects on how society delineates the scope of protection individuals can expect from professionals and institutions, in this case, highlighting a reluctance to broaden the medical profession’s duty of care to include shielding individuals from the emotional impact of witnessing the consequences of medical failures.

However the Decision Was by a Majority

The Supreme Court’s majority opinion, supported by six justices against one, aligns with a longstanding principle in common law that limits claims for compensation to those directly affected by an action or negligence, barring a few exceptions. This ruling, therefore, maintains a narrow interpretation of duty of care, focused on the direct patient-doctor relationship and excluding secondary victims from claiming compensation for psychiatric injury.

Thanks to One Judge, Lord Burrows

Critics of the decision, including the dissenting Lord Burrows, argue this approach unjustly narrows the possibilities for claims by relatives of patients in cases of medical negligence. They advocate for a broader interpretation that would recognise the traumatic impact on families and offer a pathway for compensation. This perspective sees the event of death due to medical negligence as a critical moment of harm, meriting consideration within the framework of duty of care, even when it doesn’t involve a sudden accident.

The Court’s ruling raises essential questions about the balance between the economic sustainability of public healthcare systems, like the NHS, and the moral imperative to acknowledge and ameliorate the full spectrum of harm caused by medical errors.

While it acknowledges the financial and systemic pressures faced by the NHS, it also draws attention to the limitations placed on justice and compensation for families devastated by medical negligence.

In essence, this judgment reflects the ongoing struggle to define the limits of accountability and support within healthcare, legal, and societal frameworks. It leaves a profound impact on families seeking redress for psychiatric injuries, shaping the future discourse on the responsibilities of healthcare providers beyond the immediate patient care, and how society values and supports individuals affected by the ripple effects of medical negligence.

Further Reading for Bereaved Families

Whilst another legal blow against bereaved families, nevertheless there are still significant help and support that we can provide to assist in the aftermath of losing a loved one.  This will include liaising with the police, the coroner, courts, insurance companies to establish the truth and gain compensation to help support the family that often loses financial and care support.

For further guidance please click on the following:

How to claim for a bereavement award

Who can claim for a bereavement award?

Who is a dependent of the deceased?

What is a Coroner’s court and Inquest?

Contact us for help and support following a bereavement.


Bereavement Award – Time Is Running Out

Bereaved Parents Claim for Bereavement Award

In the realm of bereavement support and claims, two key articles shed light on vital information for eligible parents, particularly regarding imminent deadlines and eligibility criteria.

An important reminder is penned by Lucy Alderson, highlights a crucial deadline to claim a bereavement award looming for parents who have lost a partner. These individuals have until February 8 to submit a backdated claim to the government for financial assistance, potentially amounting to thousands of pounds.


This award is payable by the Government and must be distinguished from a bereavement award that is payable due to:

The Government Bereavement Award

This benefit, historically available  only to married couples or those in civil partnerships, was extended last year to include cohabiting parents. The deadline is critical: claims can be backdated as far as 2001, but after February 8, claims can only be backdated to August 30, 2018. The bereavement support payment system, which replaced the widowed parent’s allowance in 2017, varies depending on the partner’s national insurance contributions and the claimant’s circumstances. Urgency is paramount, as the application process requires a form downloadable from the website, to be submitted before the deadline.

How to Claim for Backdated Widowed Parent’s Allowance

The eligibility for the Widowed Parent’s Allowance (WPA), now superseded by the Bereavement Support Payment. It clarifies that existing WPA recipients will continue receiving payments until eligibility ceases.

New claims for WPA are restricted to those whose partners passed away before April 6, 2017. Eligibility hinges on several factors: being under state pension age, entitlement to Child Benefit for at least one child, and the marital or living arrangement with the deceased partner, who must have met certain contribution conditions. Interestingly, the allowance is also accessible to those who were pregnant at the time of their partner’s death or became pregnant through fertility treatment thereafter. However, there are restrictions: divorcees, those who have remarried or are cohabiting, and individuals over the state pension age at the time of their partner’s death are ineligible.

For individuals seeking bereavement support, understanding these eligibility requirements and deadlines is crucial. The government’s bereavement support provides a financial lifeline during challenging times, and awareness of these opportunities can significantly impact the lives of those affected by loss.

Making a claim for a bereavement support payment can be found on our website under bereavement award and the relevant part is reproduced below:

What Is the Bereavement Support Payment?

Making a claim for a bereavement support payment can be found on our website under bereavement award and the relevant part is reproduced below, but please click on the Government Website Bereavement Support Payment for up to date information on claiming.

The Government scheme may help families who have lost a loved one, but it has been heavily criticised when it was updated recently as families, especially with children, are said to be losing out.

The benefit is called a Bereavement Support Payment and is payable if a husband, wife or civil partner died on or after 6 April 2017.

If that is the case, then the following must be met:

  • paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks
  • the death was caused by an accident at work or a disease caused by work
  • be under the State Pension age
  • be living in the UK or a country that pays bereavement benefits

But, according to the Childhood Bereavement Network, it claims that working families could lose out by £12,000 each due to the law change by the Conservative Government in 2017, as per this childhood bereavement article.

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What Is the Widow’s Parent Allowance?

A Government scheme may also pay you an additional amount under what is called the Widowed Parent’s Allowance if:

  • husband, wife or civil partner died before 6 April 2017
  • under State Pension age
  • entitled to Child Benefit for at least one child and your late husband, wife or civil partner was their parent
  • your late husband, wife or civil partner paid NI contributions, or they died as a result of an industrial accident or disease

The Government website also says that you may also claim WPA if you’re pregnant and your husband has died, or if you’re pregnant after fertility treatment and your civil partner has died.

The amount you get is based on how much your late husband, wife or civil partner paid in National Insurance contributions and the maximum benefit paid is £117.10 a week.

But time is running out.

Fatal Road Accidents Statistics

The facts and figures of Deaths in Road Accidents in the UK

Deaths due to road accidents are recorded centrally and provide an overarching picture of the fatalities and casualties on our roads.  An important insight into fatal road accident statistics can be gained where road users are sadly killed that can be broken down by various factors such a as the mode of transport, age and sex of the victims even down to location.

Road Accident Crash Map

There is an excellent statistical tool that provides details of road accidents near you.  Simple type in your post code and you will find details of accidents from minor to fatal injuries within a region where you live.  Click on the picturing of the map below to take you to the website.

Age and Sex Data

The following fatal road accident statistics depicts fatal road accidents by Age and Sex courtesy of the Department of Transport, the information is a comparison between years 2019 and 2022 respectively.

The highest group of road deaths are male age 30 to 49 years.  This mirrors the same age group for females.

The following road death statistics published by the Department of Transport in September 2023 are summarised below:

1. Deprivation: The Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) reveals a correlation between road deaths and deprivation, with a higher proportion of fatal road accidents occurring in more deprived areas.

2. Road Casualties: The trend in fatal road casualties over four decades, showing a general decline. In 2022, road casualties increased compared to 2020 and 2021, indicating a return to pre-pandemic trends. The final estimates for reported road collisions in Great Britain in 2022 include 1,711 fatalities (2% decline from 2019), 29,742 killed or seriously injured (3% decline), and 135,480 casualties of all severities (12% decline).

3. Casualty Rates: The casualty rates per billion miles traveled in 2022 increased slightly compared to 2019, with 5 road fatalities, 91 killed or seriously injured casualties, and 413 casualties of all severities. The data suggests stability in casualty rates over the last decade, influenced by changes in traffic patterns and the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns.

4. Not Wearing a Seatbelt: In 2022, around a fifth of car passengers were not wearing seatbelts. The proportion was higher for male car occupant fatalities and those traveling during the evening and night (6pm to 8am).

What are the most common causes of fatal road accidents?

The statistics show the following:

The man three main causes of death by road accidents are:

  1. Loss of control
  2. Driver or rider failed to look properly
  3. Driver or rider careless, reckless or in a hurry

The factors in relegation to where the driver or rider is careless for reckless relate to the common offences of:

Causing death by dangerous driving riding

Causing death by dangerous driving is one thing bereaved families must consider when facing an untimely and sudden loss of a loved one following a tragic road accident. A driver or cyclist charged with the offence will be liable for a civil claim for compensation and criminal charges by the police, potentially leading to imprisonment.

Causing death by careless driving or riding

Many of the deaths on UK roads are caused by fatal road accidents due to death by careless driving. If someone is arrested by the police and found guilty of causing death by careless driving, they may face time in prison. As well as imprisonment, the culprit may also be liable for a civil compensation claim where damages will be paid to the bereaved family.

Fatal road accidents caused by drink and drugs

In 2021, estimates of casualties in collisions involving at least one driver or rider over the drink-drive limit in Great Britain revealed concerning trends:

240 to 280 people were killed in drink-drive collisions, with a central estimate of 260 fatalities.
– The estimate for fatalities in 2021 is the highest since 2009, indicating a statistically significant increase from 2020.
– The central estimate for killed or seriously injured drink-drive casualties in 2021 is 1,880, marking a notable 23% increase from 2020.
– An estimated 6,740 people were killed or injured in drink-drive collisions, showing a 4% rise from 2020. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is noted, with increases in 2021 following
reductions in the previous year.

Fatal Accidents to Cycle Riders

The Table below shows the number of cycle riders killed on UK roads per billion of miles travelled. When compared with distance traveled pedal cyclist and motorbike riders fair unfavourably due to the fact that they are vunerarble road users.

Overall personal injury rates for car occupants, pedal cyclists and motorcyclists have shown a decline in numbers.

Motorbike Fatal Accident Statistics


Fatal Road Accidents By Type of Road

These statistics depict the fatalities where death has occurred on a specific road type such as a motorways, urban or rural roads. In the road casualty report it provides:

In 2022, the majority of road fatalities occurred on rural roads, whereas the majority of all casualties occurred on urban roads. Although motorways account

for 21% of road traffic, they account for a much smaller proportion of road fatalities (6%) and casualties (4%). By contrast, rural road fatalities (59%) are over represented compared to the proportion of rural road traffic (44%). Similarly, urban roads account for a much higher proportion of road casualties (63%) than their relative traffic level (35%).

The statistics show:

Motorways – 100 killed

Rural roads – 1018 killed

Urban roads – 593 killed 

Continue reading Fatal Road Accidents Statistics

Loss of Dependency Calcluation

Understanding Dependency Claims in Fatal Accident Cases in England and Wales

Losing a loved one is an unimaginable pain, and when it happens due to someone else’s negligence, it adds legal complexities to the emotional distress. In England and Wales, loss of dependency claims in fatal accident cases aim to provide financial support to dependents left behind.  The compensation for the death itself of a loved one, is quite nominal compared to the claim for loss dependency that is usually claimed from close family members.

People Grieving Following a Loss dependency

When a person dies due to another’s negligence, many cases involved claims involving a fatal accident at work or causing death by dangerous driving or causing death by careless driving, dependents (like spouses, children, or parents) can make a dependency claim. This claim seeks compensation for the financial support the deceased would have provided and also the ‘labour costs’ that can sound in damages (compensation) for the hours that the deceased has provided a service to the family member, for instance the deceased regularly cleaned the house, attended to DIY, washed the car, mowed the garden.  Those ‘labour costs’ or services provided by the deceased needs to be replaced.

Dependency Claim


That replacement may be by the family member where that person has to provide the time to undertake those chores either personally and or by paying somebody to undertake that service.  Roughly a claim for the labour costs of a dependency service will usually amount to the minimum wage rates.  Over a year that can add up to £Thousands and in young families often cases for labour costs, the services provided by the Deceased can lead to compensation for a fatal accident claim to over a £Million.

Case Law On Calculating a Fatal Accident Dependency Claim

The cornerstone of dependency claims is the “Empress Motors Case.” This landmark legal case established crucial principles for assessing dependency claims. In the Empress Case, the court recognised that dependency goes beyond direct financial contributions. It considered factors like services, care, and assistance, acknowledging the multifaceted nature of dependence. This precedent laid the foundation for a comprehensive approach to evaluating the impact of a loss on dependents.

In layperson’s terms, the Empress Case emphasised that financial dependency isn’t solely about monetary contributions. It recognised the value of the deceased’s non-financial contributions, such as childcare, household support, or assistance. This broader perspective ensures that dependents are rightfully compensated for the full extent of their loss.

How is a Dependency Claim Calculated?

This can be complicated.  If there are bank statements that provide full and accurate payments by the Deceased concerning various income and contributions paid then this may be sufficient to assess the dependency with certainty.  But often life is not like this and there may be many instances where such information is wanting and incomplete. Also the investigations may become tedious and difficult so the Court in Empress Motors undertook and established a broad brush approach to calculating a financial dependency award.

In the Empress Motors case, a person claimed compensation for the loss of someone due to negligence. There were differing assessments by the courts when calculating the lost years since the two leading authorities, but guidance was provided by the CA in a combined judgement in Harris v Empress Motors Ltd and Cole v Crown Poultry Packers Ltd [1984] 1 WLR 212.

The general principle is in 3 stages;

1. Assess the living expenses of the deceased, (the ingredients of the expenses are the same if the victim is old, young, single or married);

2. The sum to be deducted as living expenses is the proportion of the victim’s net earnings that he spends to maintain himself at the standard of life appropriate to his case;

3. Any sums expended to maintain or benefit others do not form part of the victim’s living expenses and are not to be deducted from the net earnings.

The court in this case decided that for two cohabiting married parents who lived together with one child or more, the dependency percentage is 75%, or with no children, 66%.

In the case of Coward v Comex Houlder Diving Limited, the widow, Mrs. Coward, contested the damages awarded under the Fatal Accident Acts. The court, dismissing the appeal, determined the dependency should be calculated at 60% of the deceased’s net earnings instead of the conventional two-thirds. The judge’s reasoning considered future chances and refused to apply the standard formula without adjustment, deeming it unjust. The decision allowed for discretion to admit fresh evidence. This differs from the Empress Motors case, which established conventional figures for dependency ratios.

Chouza v Martins & Ors [22.06.21] the High Court considered an alternative to both Harris and Coward.  In this case Counsel for the Claimant argued argued that the usual way of calculating the support percentage should change because the deceased was frugal, spending very little on themselves. Normally, the court follows set percentages, but here, they wanted higher percentages pre and post-retirement. The defendant solicitors said any change of the usual ratio of dependency needs proof. The judge, Mr. Justice Spencer, explained there are two parts: deciding how to calculate, and then, if using percentages, figuring out the right ones. He believed a change was fair based on family stories, even without specific proof. So, he decided on 85% before retirement and 70% after, differing from the usual percentages set by Harris.

How to make a Dependency Claim

When pursuing a dependency claim, factors considered include:

  1. Financial Support: This includes the deceased’s income, pension, and other monetary contributions.
  2. Services and Assistance: Non-financial contributions like childcare, household tasks, and emotional support are evaluated.
  3. Loss of Benefits: Dependents may lose access to certain benefits or perks due to the death.

It’s essential to prove the extent of dependency, and specialist fatal accident solicitors, R James Hutcheon Solicitors will play a crucial role in gathering evidence and presenting a compelling case.

Navigating these legal intricacies can be overwhelming during an emotionally challenging time. Seeking legal counsel from experts experienced in fatal accident claims is advisable. We can guide dependents through the process, ensuring a comprehensive assessment of the impact on their lives.

In conclusion, dependency claims in fatal accident cases aim to address the multifaceted nature of loss. The Empress Case stands as a legal milestone, recognising the diverse contributions and dependencies that exist within families. By acknowledging both financial and non-financial aspects, the legal system strives to provide just compensation to those left behind after a tragic loss.

Contact the fatal accident solicitors today for help and support free with the knowledge that we offer a complete NO WIN NO FEE NO WORRY SERVICE.

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Death by Dangerous Driving Fuelled by Alcohol

As reported in The Times today, causing death by dangerous or careless driving due to the influence of alcohol has reached a 12-year high in the UK, with an estimated 260 fatalities in 2021 involving alcohol-impaired drivers, up from 220 the previous year.

It is said that this marked the highest toll since 2009. The rise is attributed to people visiting friends’ houses by driving under the influence. Men accounted for the vast majority of deaths (220) compared to 20 women.

Further, a staggering 1,610 people suffered severe injuries in drink-drive accidents in 2021, representing a 4% increase from the previous year.

Experts call for stronger enforcement, including increased roadside breathalyser tests. Campaigns to combat drink-driving causing death by dangerous driving or causing death by careless driving attitudes and behaviours continue, though drivers aged 24-29 are the most vulnerable group. The legal alcohol limit for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland is 80mg/100ml, with Scotland reducing it to 50mg/100ml in 2014. London and the southeast saw 28% of all drink-drive casualties, while Scotland reported only 3%. Hunter Abbott, from AlcoSense, expressed concern over the nearly 20% increase in fatalities caused by drunk drivers. Effective measures are needed to address the ongoing battle against drink-driving, as it continues jeopardising lives and road safety in the UK.

The AA’s president, Edmund King, highlighted the tragic toll of 260 needless deaths amid reduced travel due to Covid lockdowns and tens of thousands dying from the virus. He emphasized the need for responsible driving to prevent further tragedies. Simon Williams, the RAC’s road safety spokesman, expressed extreme concern over the figures, calling them a wake-up call for the government and police to implement effective enforcement, including more breathalyzer tests. The Department for Transport reiterated that drink-driving is illegal and imposes tough penalties due to the risks posed to lives.

Drivers aged 24-29 were most at risk, while those over 60 were less likely to be involved in drink-drive accidents. The DfT plans to launch a new campaign later in the year to continue tackling drink-driving attitudes.

In conclusion, despite the closure of pubs during the Covid pandemic, the UK experienced a significant increase in drink-driving deaths, signalling a pressing need for stronger enforcement and awareness campaigns to combat this perilous behaviour. The tragic toll on lives underscores the importance of responsible driving and measures to curb alcohol-impaired road accidents.

Bereavement Award A Lottery To Claim

Why is the bereaement Award A Lottery?

What is a bereavement award?

In a civil law claim where a loved on sadly dies due to the wrongful actions of another, most typically where a driver of a motor vehicle kills another and is charged with offences such as causing death by dangerous driving or causing death by careless driving the bereaved families of can claim compensation under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 for a bereavement award.

Now for some reason only known to the Government that sets the laws and the amount of compensation that can be claimed for a bereavement award, the amount on offer is only meant to be a token value.  One could say that no amount of money can ever replaced a loved one.  However, there has to be reality here when someone is unlawfully killed in an act of pure recklessness on the road or disregard over  health and safety if an employee is loses his or her life at work.  But where you live in the United Kingdom determies who can claim and the amount that can be claimed, an article in The Times refers; Bereavment Compensation A Lottery

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What is the amount of a bereavement award? 

As mentioned above this is set by the Government and has increased from £12,980 to £15,120 for any fatal accidents that have occurred on May 2020.  The amount so unjust.

What is the post code award for a bereavement award?  Well those who lose a loved one in Scotland, it is reported can obtain substantially more than those bereaved families in England and Wales.  It appears that in Scotland they are  more sympathetic to those families who lose a loved one through no fault of their own. The Courts will assess the closeness of love an affection to the deceased an place a more reasonable award.

Who can receive a bereavement award?

This is also where the lottery of where you live plays a part.  In England and Wales the Fatal Accident Act 1976 is very restrictive as to who can claim a bereavement award.  For instance, where a parent loses a child in a road accident, the parent cannot claim for a bereavement award if the child is 18 years or older.  Makes not sense.  Similarly if a chid loses a parent, the child cannot claim a bereavement award, no matter how old.

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Why pay compensation for a bereavement award?

The question is why not?  If a family member is killed in an accident it causes a financial loss to the household in addition to the loss of love and support for the life time of the surviving partner and children.  Often the partner of the deceased will be unable to return to work for a substantial time (where the law says that they cannot claim for any loss of earnings by the way another unjust part of the laws that apply to England and Wales).  The amount does not justify the loss to the family left behind.  Further a larger bereavement award will also be

What is the lottery postcode for a bereavement award?

The Times Newspaper refers to the differnence in  laws between Scotland and England and Wales;

“There is a postcode lottery when someone is wrongfully killed in the UK,” says Sam Elsby, the president of the APIL which produced a report showing that “only a very rigid, prescribed list of relatives qualify for statutory compensation for their untimely loss in England, Wales and Northern Ireland”.

The association says that in Scotland “the law has no difficulty in recognising the closeness of different relationships”. But in the other UK jurisdictions unmarried fathers do not qualify for payments, and step-parents, parents of adults, brothers and sisters are left out. “It is woefully discriminatory and out of date,” Elsby says.

See also: List of family members who cannot claim a bereavement award

See also: Bereavement Award in Scotland

Why is the bereavement Award Unjust?

It is difficult why the law makers in England and Wales put such token amounts on the value of life.  It is because the motor injurers and employers liability insurers who are large multi international companies can lobby Government to keep payments to bereaved families low.

Because the bereaved families are vulnerable?  I say this because of the phone hacking scandal where celebrities can claim over £200,000 for ‘hurt feelings’ for someone listening in on their phone calls.  I have no issues with the award, but my issue is how does this compare to losing a loved one killed by another?  There is simply no comparison.

How can I instruct a Bereavement Award Solicitor?

Please only contact expert solicitors in this area.  A ‘personal injury’ lawyer is not usually the best solicitor to instruct unless they have a specialist interest in fatal accidents because the law of calculating compensation is different.  The unwary solicitor may fail to obtain the maximum result of bereaved families.

Please remember that it is not just a bereavement award that can be claim, there are many other aspects such as funeral costs, headstone costs, dependency claim and care and support claims that can add to a substantial amount.

Please contact us now for free support and advice: bereavement awards solicitors.

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Compensation For The Death of a Family Member

How to claim compensation for death of a family member.

The death of a family member caused by a fatal car accident or a fatal accident at work for instance is a traumatic time for all concenred. The Legal Authority to Make a Fatal Accident Claim for the death of a Family Member is currently under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 and the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934.

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 makes it possible to claim compensation for the death of a family member in respect of a wrongful death. It enable entitles certain people to make a claim for compensation in order to reflect their loss of financial dependency on the deceased. The categories of people in tilted to claim could include spouses, civil partners and children of the deceased. However, the number of Dependants is not fixed it could range further than immediate family; it could also extend to siblings and grandparents.

The Dependants are usually the deceased ‘Next of Kin’ so the fatal accident claims are usually made by the same people. Dependents are able to claim for any loss any dependency including;

For more guidance and information Fatal Accident claims after the death of a family member check out our Fatal Accident Claims Guide.

Bereavement Award

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 a Bereavement Award is a personal injury claim made following the unlawful death of a person to the fault of another. Entitlement for a Bereavement Award is calculated on an individual case-by-case basis. To qualify for a Bereavement Award a claimant has to show they fall within a particular class of persons entitled and highlight how they have suffered or are suffering a loss.

Bereavement damages are most often paid where you may also hear the words ‘unlawful killing’ or where the death has occurred due to a criminal offence such as murder.

The Bereavement award is a one of payment of £12,980 to certain relatives of the deceased which is limited to the wife, husband or civil partner of the deceased. The exception to the strict criteria is where the deceased was a minor, in which case the deceased parents may be entitled to a bereavement award.
The amount of the Bereavement Award has increased over the last decades and historical figures for the Bereavement Award are;

£3,500 to £7,500 – 1 April 1991
£10,000 – 1 April 2002
£11,200 – 1 January 2008
£11,800 – 1 January 2012
£12,980 – 1 April 2013
£15,120 – 1 May 2021

This provision has been widely criticised, particularly in light of ‘the number of cohabiting couple families has increased faster than a married couple and lone-parent families, with an increase of 25.8% over the decade 2008 to 2018’ according to the Office for National Statistics. It is our firm belief that when a couple has cohabited for years and may even have started a family together it seems unjust to deny them the Bereavement Award solely on the basis that they have not entered into a legal marriage. As reported by the BBC the Law Commission previously suggested ‘cohabiting couples should be eligible for bereavement damages’.

For further guidance and information on the Bereavement Award after the Death of a Family Member check out our Bereavement Award – Guide 2020.

Dependency on Children in Fatal Accident Claims

The legal system sparks a grave injustice where children are killed in an accident where it is another’s fault.  Most such cased involved fatal road accidents where the child is a passenger in a vehicle.

The law ignores children from a compensation point of view.  It is as though they are worthless.  A child who is tragically killed in a road accident or other equally tragic event where the death or unlawful killing was the fault of another, the compensation for dependency is usually the following:

  1. Bereavement award.
  2. Return to parents of funeral expenses.
  3. Damage for personal items such as clothing.
  4. Compensation for any pain and suffering prior to death.

Due to the child’s age there is often no financial dependency upon the child by the parents or guardian responsible for looking after him/her and thus the loss of a child is quite often valued at £NOTHING, subject to a bereavement award. It truly is remarkable that this law is still in place today.

Fatal Accident Compensation for Cohabitees

As the Law stands, cohabitees are not able to claim for a Bereavement Award under the 1976 Act. However, as cohabitation is becoming increasingly regular amongst couples in the UK. The law is gradually adapting to accommodate these alterations to the usual household dynamic and provide greater protection for cohabitees; however, there are no immediate legal rights for cohabiting couples.

When a long term partner and cohabitee passes away at the fault of a third party the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 makes it possible for cohabitees to claim for compensation if they fulfil certain criteria;

  • That they were living with the deceased in the same household immediately before the date of the death.
  • That they had been living with the deceased in the same household for at least 2 years before that date.
  • That they were living during the whole of that period as the husband or wife or civil partner of the deceased.

However, a person seeking to make a claim under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 are not only required to prove that they are living with the deceased but equally the permanence and stability of the relationship with the deceased. Evidence of the stability of a relationship includes things such as shared bills, bank accounts and other household arrangements.

Equally, to the internal nature of the relationship, the external nature will also be relevant; in other words, the nature to which the relationship was presented publically as living together in a long term sustained relationship. Brief periods of absence will not break the continuity of cohabiting if it is found that the deceased and the claimant did cohabit together regularly.

Legal Challenges for Fatal Accident Compensation for Cohabitees

The Law on Fatal Accident Claims after the death as the result of a third party may be set to change in relation to cohabitees after a recent ruling in the Smith v (1) Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (2) Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and (3) The Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWCA Civ 1916.

In the case Ms. Jakki Smith, the claimant and the deceased Mr. John Bulloch cohabited as man and wife between March 2000 and his death on 12 October 2011. Mr Bulloch died as a result of medical negligence of the first and second defendants. The defendants admitted the negligence but claimed that Ms Smith was not entitled to the Bereavement Award as the couple never officially married.

Ms. Smith’s legal team argued that in denying cohabitees from claiming the Bereavement Award, the High Court ruling dismissing her claim breached Article 8 and Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Ms. Smith argued that the legislation discriminated her as an unmarried woman. As Article 8 protects the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence and; Article 14 requires that all of the rights and freedoms set out in the Act must be protected and applied without discrimination; the law needs to take into consideration that cohabitation can and does give rise to intimate and long-term relationships which stand to be compensated for the grief experienced when one party dies due to the fault of a third party.

The Court of Appeals issued a section 4(2) declaration of incompatibility under the Human Rights Act 1998 to the effect that section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 is not in accordance to the European Convention of Human Rights. This in itself does not change UK law it paved the way for parliament to amend the legislation through a joint committee to review the Fatal Accident Act 1976 with regards to cohabiting couples. On 8 May 2019, the Government laid a proposal draft Remedial Order to remedy the discrimination. However, as it stands cohabitees are not entitled to a Bereavement Award.

Claiming for Compensation For The Death of a Family Member

The law on the rights of cohabitees when one dies in an accident found to be the fault of a third party is gradually coming in line with the dynamic of modern families and the social acceptance of the legitimacy of cohabiting couples. Cohabitees may claim compensation for loss of dependency provided they are able to demonstrate that they lived in the same household as the deceased. Each case is judged with its own specific details but primarily the claimant must demonstrate that they were in an internally and externally stable relationship of sufficient permanence to be eligible. Currently, the Bereavement Award is not available for Cohabitees however, this will change but the time scale for this to be included within the law is undetermined.

Contact us to find out more about your compensation options.

Lorry Driver Watching TV Causes Death

A lorry driver has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving when it is alleged that he was watching television at the time of the collision.

The lorry driver drove into the rear of the vehicle the deceased was driving when it is thought he was watching television.

The lorry driver has denied causing death by dangerous driving but has agreed to a lesser charge of causing death by careless driving.

Compensation Death by Dangerous Driving









Google Searches Reveal Watching Television while Driving

The prosecution in a trial has informed the court that the lorry driver had made two Google Searches on his phone in his cab revealing the possibility that shortly before the tragic collision that he may have been watching television hence the charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

At the court hearing it was said:

“There was clearly inadequate distance between the car and the lorry and insufficient time to stop.”

The court was told that the lorry driver was looking downwards for an “extended period” and was not paying attention to the road.

“There was no hope at that point to stop in time and avoid a collision,” the lorry driver’s actions were “inevitably dangerous”.

The lorry driver is said to have admitted that he“fell short” of the required standard but added: “The Crown say the driving was much worse than that and fell far below.”

The trial continues, reported in The Times

Compensation for causing death by dangerous driving?

If you or your family have been affected by this article and require legal advice please do not hesitate to contact our legal team who will advise you of your legal rights and help you through the legal paper-work required.

Further reading please click on the following links:

Causing death by dangerous driving

Causing death by careless driving

Fatal Accidents Act 1976



Mobile phone related deaths UK

Mobile phone related deaths UK

Causing death by dangerous driving or death by careless driving whilst using a mobile phone can result, in the former case a jail term of life.

Drivers who cause death by using their mobile phones (it may also apply to using hands-free devices) may still get life.  If the charge is death by careless driving, the jail term may be 14 years.

There were 10,000 reported motorists caught twice behind the wheel over the last 4 years.  Incidents that may give rise to a charge for careless driving or dangerous driving are listed below, but beware, if a momentary lapse of using your mobile (or cell phone) which caused death or serious injury may result in up to life imprisonment.

Fatal road accident claims

Examples that may mobile use giving rise to compensation for death whilst driving a car

Many typical examples are:

  • quick look at who text
  • texting
  • making a call
  • receiving a call
  • checking emails
  • sending emails
  • playing music
  • the list is now endless with smart phones.

Everyone is urged to put their mobile phone in the glove box to prevent temptation and the devastating result of an accident to the driver and to those who may be injured or killed as a result.

Compensation for death by using a mobile phone behind the wheel

Families left devastated by the death of a loved one following a fatal car accident claim will no doubt be pleased to hear of the increase in the sentence.  However this does not match any increase for:

However the compensation levels are available to help families whose lives have been devastated by the loss of a close family member. Contact us now for family help and support via our fatal car accident helpline.

The current penalties for the offence are listed below.

Fatal car accident mobile charges

Mobile phone deaths in the UK behind the wheel

There is a lot of information on our website to cover this important and ever changing topic and the links below will guide you through the most important issues: