Category Archives: Dependency Awards

Who Is Entitled?

Who Is Entitled to a Bereavement Award?

Firstly a claim for a bereavement award is in addition to other claims that may be made under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.

Claimaing a bereavement award under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976

There are only a limited class of people who can claim for bereavement compensation award in a civil claim set out under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Surviving civil partner
  • Parents (if the child was under 18)
  • Unmarried couples? (living together as husband and wife/same sex couple for at least two years prior to death – see further below).

Civil Partners Act 2004 introduced a claim for a bereavement award. But what about unmarried couples?  The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 Guide we have provided clearly shows that if a couple is unmarried or not in a sanctioned civil partnership, the death of a partner due to a fatal accident were not entitled to claim.

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Unmarried? Can I Claim Bereavement Compensation?

If a partner has died due to a fatal accident caused by another, providing that the surviving partner was:

  • married to the deceased,
  • in a civil partnership with the deceased,

A bereavement compensation award can be made. However, if they were not married or in a Civil Partnership at the time of the fatal accident claim, no compensation for a bereavement award is payable under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.  Please note a parent can claim for a bereavement award for a loss of a child providing that the child was under 18 years of age at the time of death.  However, this article concentrates on couples who cohabit by choice or otherwise and choose not to marry or be in a Civil Partnership.

In a recent development and very much welcomed, came a challenge through the Courts where an unmarried partner tried to claim for a bereavement award despite the limited class of people who can claim under the 1976 Act.

In this case, Miss Smith had cohabited with her partner for over 10 years when her partner unfortunately died due to a medical accident.  She believed the law was unfair and incompatible to other laws such as pursue the bereavement award as well as a declaration of incompatibility under the European Convention of Human Rights with regard to the right for family and private life and protection from discrimination respectively.  She had the right to challenge but no compensation was payable.  The law has changed and it is likely that unmarried couples may be able to claim for a bereavement award but the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 has not been changed to date but is about to be amended at the time of writing this page, see below.

It is an important attempt and example that illustrates the need for urgent reform; the case can be read in full by clicking here: Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospitals & Others 2017 – bereavement award challenge by cohabitee/unmarried couple. But  a step back in the case of same-sex couples: Stienfeld case.

Change in the Law to Qualify for a Bereavement Award

Following the Court of Appeal case in Smith, the Government is intending to change the law so that unmarried couples can also claim compensation for a bereavement compensation following a fatal accident claim if they were living together for a period of two years prior to death as ‘husband and wife.’

The full proposals to change the law can be found here Fatal Accident claims and Cohabitees on bereavement compensation claims.

See further our report on the Government Changes to Bereavement Compensation Award

Fatal Accident Claims and Cohabitees

Below is a comprehensive guide on Cohabitation is rapidly growing in popularity amongst couples in the UK.  Even though an unmarried couple may be able to bring a claim, they must satisfy the Court that they were ‘living together‘ for a period of two years prior to death.

Bereavement Compensation Award

While the law is gradually adapting to reflect these changes and provide greater protection for cohabitees, as yet there are no automatic legal rights for cohabiting couples. So what happens if you are a cohabitee and your long-term partner passes away in a tragic accident?

Where the accident is found to be the fault of a third party, the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 entitles certain categories of persons to make a claim for compensation to reflect their loss of financial dependency on the deceased. These include spouses, civil partners and children of the deceased.

Section 1(3)(b) of the 1976 Act allows cohabitees to make a claim for compensation subject to 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.

The Relationship: Living Together, Cohabiting, What Does It Mean?

The fact that people cohabit and live together does not mean that they are a couple who have intended that the relationship was akin to a ‘husband and wife’ situation. There must be some sort of criteria, a formula if you like, that demonstrates to others and the court that they were indeed living or cohabiting together with that intention.

Several factors that can help determine if couples who are not married or in a Civil Partnership and may be useful to satisfy the court that they were cohabitants under the law. Some examples found outside of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 are below:

  • The Family Law Act 

Section 62(1) of the Family Law Act 1996 defines “cohabitants”, for the purpose of eligibility to apply for occupation and non-molestation orders, as two persons who are neither married to each other nor civil partners of each other but who are living together as husband and wife or as if they were civil partners.

  • Couples Cohabiting – Adopting Children

Couples are defined as two people (whether of different sexes or the same sex) living as partners in an enduring family relationship.

  • Common Factors for Living Together to Satisfy a Claim for Bereavement Compensation.

It appears that the common factor, to be summarised in a short sentence can be typically described as ‘an enduring sexual or intimate relationship to the exclusion of all others.’  The most common formula uses the “marriage analogy”, while some more recent legislation has referred to “partners in an enduring family relationship“.

Bereavement Award and The Fatal Accidents Act 1976

The criteria in the provision of the FAA 1976  for couples ‘living together’ as husband and wife can be broken down into their component parts as below:

1. “Household”

The Courts have made clear that the relevant phrase for consideration is “household” and not “house”; thus it is not sufficient to show that a claimant was merely living under the same roof as the deceased.

The case of Gully v Dix [2004] EWCA Civ 139 involved a claimant who sought to make an application for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.  While this case was decided under different legislation, the criteria to be established was largely the same; the claimant had to demonstrate that she was living in the same household as the deceased during the whole of the period of two years immediately before the date of his death.  In considering this case, the judge commented that:

“they will be in the same household if they are tied by their relationship. The tie of that relationship may be manifest by various elements, not simply their living under the same roof, but the public and private acknowledgement of their mutual society, and the mutual protection and support that binds them together”

In another case Churchill v Roach [2002] EWHC 3230 (Ch), the judge in defining “living in the same household” said that it seems to

“have elements of permanence, to involve a consideration of the frequency and intimacy of contact, to contain an element of mutual support, to require some consideration of the degree of voluntary restraint upon personal freedom which each party undertakes and to involve an element of community of resources”

Thus a person seeking to make a claim for compensation under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 would need not only to show that they were living with the deceased, but also provide evidence as to the permanence and stability of their relationship.

This may include things such as shared bills and bank accounts, as well as other household arrangements – for example cooking, laundry, reminders of appointments and so on. While some of these factors may simply be indicative of a strong friendship, the combination of all factors must point to a deep-rooted bond and an element of exclusivity.

For example in the case of Swetenham v Walkley & Bryce [2014] WTLR 845, the deceased and the claimant would attend social events as a couple, and the claimant would do the deceased’s washing while the deceased would pay for meals when they went out. They would support each other when ill. Although the defendants argued that they had merely been close and mutually supportive friends, the judge held that the couple had a mutuality of support and understanding to the extent that they would put each other before other friends.

In addition to the internal nature of the relationship, the external nature will also be relevant;  in other words, the extent to which the claimant and deceased presented themselves publicly as living together in a sustained relationship. In Pounder v London Underground Ltd [1995] PIQR 217 (referred to in Kortke v Saffarinig [2005] where the claimant girlfriend of the deceased was entitled to claim under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, the strength of her case was her ability to rely on independent witness evidence giving the strong impression that the witnesses believed the deceased to be living at the claimant’s flat.

2. Separate houses

An important principle to be drawn from the above case of Pounder is that the claimant and deceased were held to be living in the same household despite the fact that the deceased had retained his mother’s address for all official documents.

A similar situation occurred in Lindop v Agus [2009] EWHC 1795 (Ch), decided under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, in that the claimant lived as the deceased’s wife in the same household while retaining a different address for official correspondence. The court held that the fact that bank statements and other documents were sent to a different address was not in itself enough to defeat her claim and there was sufficient corroboration from witness evidence to find that they had lived in the same household.

Thus in the case of Kotke v Saffarini [2005] EWCA Civ 221, the judge commented that

“It is clear from the authorities that in principle a person may be a member of household A, albeit he has a second house or home elsewhere at B to which he departs temporarily from time to time”

In that case, the claimant brought a claim under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 after her partner was killed in a road traffic accident. In the years prior to the accident, the claimant and the deceased had owned and lived in separate properties in Sheffield and Doncaster, staying together at weekends.

Although the judge considered that the retention of the deceased’s house in Doncaster was not in itself a barrier to establishing the criteria for the claimant’s claim, what did invalidate her claim was the fact that the deceased himself considered himself as resident at his Doncaster address and indicated that he and the claimant had not yet reached the position of treating the Sheffield address as their mutual home.

In fact, the deceased had kept his wardrobe and possessions at his home in Doncaster, and only really began to plan a life with the claimant after she discovered that she was pregnant. However, the legislation requires that the claimant and deceased to have lived together for two years prior the date of the deceased’s death, and the pregnancy was discovered less than two years prior to his death.

These cases demonstrate that the fact that the claimant and deceased had separate houses or addresses will not automatically prevent the claimant from proving that they had lived in the same household as required by the legislation. More important are the intentions of the couple themselves and the nature of the relationship as a whole.

3. Brief Periods of Absence

It follows, then, that brief periods of absence will not break the continuity of “living together”. In the case of Pounder, the judge accepted that the deceased may have returned to his parents’ house for a week or so at a time but he was still able to find that the claimant and deceased had lived together at the claimant’s home. In addition, the judge found that although in the year before the accident in which the deceased was killed the claimant had gone to a woman’s refuge for a period of 3-4 months this did not break the period of living together. Evidence showed that the claimant had returned home regularly and stayed overnight.

In Gully v Dix [2004] EWCA Civ 139, concerning similar provisions under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, the claimant had been living separately from the deceased in the three months preceding his death. This separation was in response to an incident in which the deceased had threatened to kill himself. In finding that the claimant and deceased had nevertheless been living in the same household, the court considered that regard was to be had to the “settled state of affairs during the relationship and not the immediate de facto situation prevailing before the deceased’s death”.

Thus in the same vein as the reasoning which underpins the approach taken with separate houses, the mere fact of an absence will not negate the “living together” element of the legislation. The intention of the parties will be more determinative and a court may find that a person was living in the same household as the deceased even if they were living separately at times if it can be demonstrated that there was no settled intention that the relationship was at an end; it was merely suspended.

4. Civil Partners

While the legislation previously referred to the need to demonstrate that the claimant and deceased had been living together “as husband and wife”, growing acceptance of same-sex relationships led to an amendment being made in 2004 to the effect that cohabiting same-sex couples can also bring a claim for compensation under section 1(3)(b).

There are no separate requirements for same-sex cohabitees; the same criteria that must be established by cohabitees advancing their claims as husband and wife apply. Thus a claimant must demonstrate a relationship that goes beyond casual and produce evidence to show that it was sufficiently permanent and constant, both privately and publicly.

Bereavement Award £15,120

So far this article has dealt with the ability to bring a claim for compensation flowing from the claimant’s loss of financial dependency on the deceased. This entitlement is calculated on a case-by-case basis and beyond establishing that they fall within a particular class of persons entitled to bring a claim, the claimant must also show that they have or will have suffered a loss. For example, a claimant may claim compensation where they can show that they have suffered a loss of prospective earnings or pension. The court may also take into account non-material losses, such as the loss of the deceased’s role in family life – these include things such as birthday presents for children or the fact that the deceased regularly carried out DIY or gardening around the house.

However, in addition to this entitlement, the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 also introduced the Bereavement Award, a one-off payment of £15,120 to be paid to certain relatives. Currently this award is limited to the wife or husband or civil partner of the deceased. The only exception is where the deceased was a minor, in which case his or her parents may be entitled to the Bereavement Award.

Therefore, as the law stands, cohabitees are not able to claim compensation for bereavement under the 1976 Act.

This provision has been widely criticised, particularly in light of the fact that more and more young couples are choosing cohabitation rather than the more traditional route of marriage. Where 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 formal marriage. The inequity becomes even starker when you consider that a couple who have been married for just several months and have no children will be entitled to the Bereavement Award should one of them die.

However, the law may be set to change after the recent ruling in 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 this case, the claimant, Ms Smith, and the deceased, Mr Bulloch, had cohabited for 11 years before his death in October 2011 after he had contracted an infection following a hospital procedure. The NHS Trusts admitted that they were to blame but argued that Ms Smith was not entitled to the Bereavement Award as she and Mr Bulloch had not been married.

Ms Smith argued that in denying cohabitees from claiming the Bereavement Award, the legislation breached her human rights, namely Articles 8 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 8 ECHR protects the right to respect for private and family life while Article 14 ECHR provides protection against discrimination. Ms Smith’s argument was that the legislation discriminated against her as an unmarried woman.

The Court of Appeal noted that the Bereavement Award was intended to reflect the grief that flows from intimacy inherent within couples who were married or in a civil partnership. In that respect there was no distinction between couples in a marriage or civil partnership, and couples who were cohabiting.

Just as the right of civil partners to claim bereavement damages had been added by the Civil Partnership Act 2004 to reflect the growing incidence of same-sex relationships and the need to protect their right under Article 8 ECHR, so too does the law need to reflect the fact 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 in Smith issued a section 4(2) declaration under the Human Rights Act 1998 to the effect that section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 is incompatible with the ECHR. While this does not in itself change the law, it paves the way for Parliament to amend the legislation in order to allow cohabitees to be awarded bereavement damages.

Checklist of Living Together as a Couple

From what has been read and considered a useful check list to determine if the survivor of a couple were living together as ‘husband and wife’ can be found in the Law Commissions report on defining unmarried couples & Family Life:

Factors to include the following:

(1) the duration of the relationship;
(2) the nature of the relationship;
(3) the degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
(4) the nature and extent of common residence;
(5) whether the parties maintained a common household;
(6) whether or not the parties had a sexual relationship;
(7) the emotional or physical intimacy of the parties’ relationship;
(8) the extent of financial interdependence or dependence, if any;
(9) the extent to which any financial dependence was encouraged or fostered by the relationship;
(10) the ownership, use and acquisition of property;
(11) the performance of household duties;
(12) whether the parties have or care for children, either of both or one of them;
(13) the reputation and public aspects of the relationship;
(14) oral or written statements or promises made to each other, or representations made jointly to third parties, regarding their relationship;
(15) the extent to which the parties acknowledged responsibilities to each other, for example, by naming the other as eligible to receive benefits under an employee-benefit plan; and
(16) the parties’ participation in a commitment ceremony or registration as a domestic partnership.

Conclusion

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 modern society 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 will be judged on its own specific facts but the underlying principle is that claimants must show that they were in a relationship of sufficient intimacy and permanence, taking into account the relationship as a whole and how they conducted themselves both privately for themselves and publicly for the outside world to witness.

As it stands, cohabitees are not entitled to a Bereavement Award; however, this will change in the near future. In response to Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the Government laid a proposed draft Remedial Order before Parliament on the 8th May 2019 designed to extend the right of bereavement damages to cohabiting couples. Just how long before this becomes law remains to be seen but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

Fatal Accident Claims – Clinical Negligence

The importance of contracting sepsis has taken a new twist when the Health Secretary in the Times on 11 March 2017 has advised that anyone who has contracted the infection should be treated within the hour.  The guidelines take on board the little know dangers of the infection that can lead to death.

However failing to spot the signs of the infection can lead to fatal accident claims against the NHS for medical negligence or against others who may be liable for instance sepsis contracted during the course of your work – fatal accident at work claims or a recent blog we discussed where a dog owner caused or allowed his dog to bite a carer who contracted sepsis and subsequently died.

Sepsis Patients to be Treated Within the Hour

The Health Secretary has now advised that sepsis patients must be treated within the hour.

What is Sepis?

Sepsis occurs when the body’s immune system goes into over-drive as it tries to fight the infection that damages tissue and interferes with the blood flow.  Patients can die if the infection is not treated early.  We have seen in recent blogs by the fatal accident solicitors that in some cases the bereaved family may have a legal right to claim compensation for fatal accident claims should there be a fault on behalf of the employer and/or person who caused the infection.

Further, if the sepsis is not treated quickly by the NHS doctors or at all, a clinical negligence claim may also be made.

What are the Signs of Sepsis?

According to Health Line the following are the signs of sepsis infection:

  • patches of discolored skin.
  • decreased urination.
  • changes in mental ability.
  • low platelet (blood clotting cells) count.
  • problems breathing.
  • abnormal heart functions.
  • chills due to fall in body temperature.
  • unconsciousness.

A recent study has estimated that there are 260,000 people in the UK would develop the condition annually.

Affected By This Story?

If you wish to seek advice or legal support please contact the fatal accident solicitors as soon as possible.  There is a limited period of time to make a claim and whilst it is a difficult time there is a lot we can do to help bereaved families to help get to the truth of what happened and seek some form of justice to what has tragically happened.

Fraud to Justify Large Motor Insurance Premiums

Motorists once again are taken for ‘fools’ in the belief that the motor insurance companies are going to pass down the money saved by the so called ‘compensation culture’ in road traffic accident claims.

For many years the legal industry has been lobbying the Conservative Government in particular with the result that solicitors dealing with whiplash injury claims, personal injury and fatal accident compensation claims have had the costs for dealing with victims slashed to unprecedented levels.

But have the insurance companies passed on these significant savings to the motorists?  It is doubtful.  I personally have not seen my premiums come down at all.

Abolish Whiplash Injury Compensation and Access to Justice

The Government influenced by the motor insurance injury are now proposing next year to deny victims of road traffic accidents the right to any compensation and restrict access to justice by making it no longer financially viable to instruct a personal injury solicitor all in the need to ‘crack down on fraud’ in motor accident claims.

However the evidence does not stack up.  It appears that a leading motorist solicitor Tom Jones is reported in The Times by saying that the costs of claims fell last year and was 30% lower than in 2010.

The motor industry is booming with healthy profits and cash reserves.

What About Fatal Road Accident Compensation?

If the savage Conservative cuts goes ahead as planned, claims involving death in road traffic accidents will not be affected.  However, says our Principal Solicitor, Ronnie Hutcheon.

“The English legal system with there is an unlawful killing at work or on our roads is so unjust to the victim and the family members left behind.  Harshly put, it is cheaper to kill than to injury.  The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 needs a drastic overhaull to compensate fairly the bereaved families.  Insurance companies are getting away with compensation murder.

 

Fatal Accident – Can I Claim Compensation?

As fatal accident claim solicitors we are often approached by family members and friends of the family who have lost a loved one for guidance and advice.

Often fatal accident compensation is often secondary to finding out the truth of what happened to the deceased and to obtain justice.

Fatal Accident Claims and Probate

Fatal accident solicitors can help with the investigations by the Police by liaising  with them and the Coroner in respect of the Inquest that is often held following an untimely death.

Compensation for Fatal Accident Claim

There are many different types of losses that a qualifying member of the deceased can claim such as:

If a person dies as a result of a violent act, then a claim can be made through the Criminal Injuries Scheme of which please click on this link: Criminal Injuries and Bereavement Award.

This website offers a wealth of information and pointers to help family members and concerned friends but you should contact us for advice with one of our fatal accident solicitors to make a claim or simply to obtain some advice and support.

 

 

 

 

Not All Accident Solicitors Are the Same

Not All Accident Solicitors Are the Same

Not all fatal accident solicitors are the same.  It this most difficult time for family members who are looking for legal advice in such an emotional and traumatic time, it is important that you do obtain advice from as specialist in this area.

Fatal accident claims can involve a very complex area of the law where there are pitfalls for the unweary and inexperience solicitor who may be very good dealing with simple whiplash injury road traffic accident claims or accidents at work but not equipped with fatal injury compensation claims.  Applying the law to fatal accident claims is not routine, the demands and complexity are uniquely demanding and simply nothing short of experience and expertise should be considered in such a difficult time for the family.

Fatal Acciident Compensation Law

One Example of an Inexperienced Solicitor Getting It Wrong

In this matter, a firm of fatal accident solicitors  acted for a family whose adult child was tragically killed in a road traffic accident.  The deceased was living away from his parents and recently left university and was in a full-time job.

The fatal accident solicitors instructed by the family pursued the claim against the other driver that killed the adult child.  The police via the Crown Prosecution Service  (CPS) successfully pursue the charges of causing death by dangerous driving.

Following the conviction the family as requested by the fatal accident claim solicitors requests that they send the receipts in of the funeral expenses to stat they can be reimbursed with the cost of the funeral and headstone which is a claim that can be made under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.

The fatal accident solicitor only made a cursory enquiry asking simply did their adult child provide an financial support for them at the time of death.  The answer was ‘no.’

The insurance company for the other driver made an offer to compensate the family for the funeral expenses in ‘full and final settlement’ of the fatal accident claim.  That was it.  The family became a little concerned and questioned their rights.  After seeking advice from us, it quickly became apparent that the fatal accident solicitor simply did not go into any detail about what a ‘dependency claim’ involves and what can be claimed.

Fatal Accident Dependency Claim

It turns out that the parents and the deceased had in mind shortly before the tragic death that their adult child was intending to come back to live with the parents due to job relocation and more-over to look after one of them as they had fallen ill.  That the provision of care to one parent and that the adult child would financially support his family was simply over-looked by the fatal accident solicitor.  No proper and full investigations were ever made.

Had it not been for that telephone call to us, the fatal accident solicitors the family would have settled the claim for compensation for the loss of funeral expenses.  The total value of the Dependency claim is significant and whilst no amount of fatal accident compensation can ever be considered as justice, it does provide some financial security, closure and piece of mind.

Fatal Accident Solicitors – Advice & Support

We are here to help you every step of the way.  The first legal step is to call us.  We will be sympathetic and with over 20 years of dealing with families left devastated by the loss of a loved one appreciate your concerns and demands for justice.  We work under a No Win, No Fee Solicitor service so you have no worries in getting in touch.

Make sure you instruct the right fatal accident solicitor,  otherwise you may  not obtain  the justice that you deserve and the right amount of compensation of piece of mind  and  a sense of closure.  The above link is a cautionary tale of what can easily go wrong if the family instruct the wrong fatal accident solicitor.

Fatal Car Injury - Contact Us

 

Fatal Crash in Bodmin Caused by Lorry Driver

In Bodmin on the A 30 a fatal crash has killed and elderly woman in near Bodmin.  It is reported in the Cornish Guardian that the cause of the tragic fatality was by a lorry driver.

In addition to lorry driver is said to have been charged on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.  a further 6 people also sustained personal injury and 2 were detained in hospital.

The lorry driver is said to be in his late 20’s, the collision, which involved a lorry, a van and two cars occurred in the morning on a bank holiday causing road closures and queues.

The police who are investigating the cause of the accident who believe that the lorry driver who has charged the driver of causing death by dangerous driving are appealing for witnesses.

Fatal Road Accident Claims & Compensation

Causing Death by dangerous Driving and Personal Injury

The consequences to the family left behind following a sudden loss of a loved one due to a road accident is devastating particularly when the death could have been avoided.  When the tragic loss is due to someone being charged by causing death by dangerous driving it can make the loss even more hurtful as the accident could have been avoided.

As fatal accident claim solicitors we are here to help you every step of the way.    We act for you in connection with all legal matters, from helping with the police investigations regarding the accident, the charges made by the police, attending court, inquest hearings and compensation for the fatal injury claim for the hurt and losses past, present and future.

Brief Guide to Compensation

Brief Claim Guide to Compensation

Fatal Accident Compensation Advice:

Who can claim?
•    Widow/Widower
•    Deceased’s children / parents
•    A fatal accident claim on behalf of the deceased can also be made if the deceased would have been able to claim compensation himself/herself at the time of death

Depending on the circumstances of the fatal accident claim can be made for:
•    The injuries of the loved one who died, if he or she was conscious of pain before death
•    Funeral expenses
•    Statutory bereavement damages
•    Loss of financial dependency – which means a loss of the financial contribution of the deceased to the household
•    Loss of non-financial dependency. This can include things like DIY and other help around the house which the deceased used to provide to his or her family.

Statutory Bereavement award following a fatal injury:
•    Standard bereavement award is £12,980.
•    This is awarded when someone dies as a result of an accident due to the fault of another.
•    The bereavement award in Scotland is not a set figure; it can vary from case to case depending on the circumstances. This can result in much higher awards being granted to represent the value of life lost more suitably than merely just a standard figure of £12,980.

Analysis of Fatal Accident Compensation

The benchmark figure of £12,980 for a bereavement award seems an incredibly underwhelming and frankly upsetting value of life. This financial award is only granted to a surviving partner/civil partner, or parents if their child is younger than 18.

The strict restrictions placed upon this area of Law underlines the contempt in which the Law seems to value the lives of its people.

Further compensation can be claimed for, yet because of a combination of a trend of low payment figures and small prison sentences for the defendant, many of these cases can leave a claimant feeling as if they are being denied true justice because of the attitude of the Law.

No Win, No Fee, Help & Advice For Families

At R James Hutcheon Solicitors we can guarantee that we will do our upmost to reassure and fully support a close family member who has suffered the bereavement of a loved one who they were dependant upon and is looking to pursue a fatal accident compensation claim. We will look to ensure that the unfair nature of this area of Law in particular does not result in our client’s feeling abandoned. Our work will help mitigate the effects of such an unjust concept to help obtain maximum compensation for the fatal injury and losses that will arise as a result of the tragic loss.

Contact us now the fatal accident claim solicitors, we work under a no win no fee solicitor service so you have no financial worries in contacting us.

 

Boomerang Children Let Down By Fatal Accident Laws?

Boomerang Children Let Down By Fatal Accident Laws?

The main law governing fatal accident claims is under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.  The law surrounding fatal injuries is clealry outdated as it was passed by the Government at the time where most people would get married and have 2 children.  At the time most children would leave home at an early age, get a job and buy a house.  In those days, many jobs were considered for life so the children would have financial independence from their parents at an early stage.

Child dependency fatal accidents

Children Dependency Claims Following the Loss of A Parent

The unlawful killing of a parent in an accident, most common will be from fatal road traffic accident or fatal injury or disease contracted at work will often lead to a dependency claim for the surviving parent and to the children.  However when the law governing dependency claims, The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 was passes, some 40 years ago, it envisaged at the time that children would be financially independent from their parents, at the latest by the age of 21 years.  Therefore the loss of a parent to the child would mean no compensation for the loss if they are over 21 years of age.  Children are not even entitled to a bereavement award.

Most honest, decent and fair minded people would consider this to be unjust.

Boomerang Children and the Fatal Accidents Act – Claim for Dependency Award

The soaring house prices and cost of living means that far from children being financially independent from their parents, more and more are choosing to come back home.  With the average property price for a first time buyer in 2016 now over £210,000 in England and Wales 25% of twenty somethings up to their mid 30s years of age who are working are now living with their parents – see Guardian Hidden Cost of the Boomerang Generation.

Compensation for Fatal Accident

What does this mean to Adult children (over the age of 18 years) who are faced with a defence from the defendant insurance company saying that all the law points to the fact that adult children are likely to be independent from their parents at 18 years or 21 years and thus will not be entitled to any financial compensation for their loss.  It will be hard to take and at this time, as fatal accident claim solicitors, we are unaware of any Court Order for a fatal accident dependency award to take into account the new dimensions of modern living.

This article ‘Boomerang Children Let Down By Fatal Accident Laws?’ will continue Part 2.

Compensation for Fatal Injury Claim?

For family legal advice and assistance all under our no win no fee solicitor service please contact us immediately. We are here to help you in this most difficult time.  No matter what the query we will only be too pleased to help you.

Contact Fatal Accident Solicitors

 

 

 

Modern Family Living Let Down By The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (Pt 1)

The younger generation are no longer leaving the nest and going far and wide as the law makers once considered back in 1976 following the passing of the Fatal Accidents Act.  The law passed relates mainly to a bereavement awards (a lump sum compensation award to close family members who losses a loved one due to a fatal road accident or death at work for example).  The current award for a bereavement award is pitiful £12,980.  The award is an insult and family members who are entitled is also limited to make it unjust and harsh.

So if a child under the age of 18 dies and there are two parents surviving, they both share the award, as though the death means less.  If the child dies but is over the age of 18 years old, the parents are not entitled to a bereavement award.  A child is not entitled to anything if the child loses a parent.  Where is the justice?

Why is the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 Outdated?

Back in 1976 the family unit was a typical (white family – Christian values) married couple with 2.2 children. Marriage was for life, children will often leave school at 16 or 18 years and work or a few to University.  Thereafter would buy a house and live independently from their parents.

Thus the passing of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 would reflect society as it was then.  Following the unlawful killing of a family member in a road traffic accident for instance, a dependency award would generally be limited to the age of 18 or 21 years for the dependent child as the law would deem that they are financially independent from the parents by then.

It mattered not too much then as the rest of the dependency compensation would be paid to the (in a typical case) surviving mother/wife.  So at the end of the day the ‘family’ would receive the dependency compensation they are entitled to.

2016 and Divorce Rates are Higher Than Marriage Rates

Fast forward 40 years since the passing of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 we are now faced with family breakups and divorces, the fatal injury laws have not kept up with the changes and creates injustice.

Fatal Accident Claims – Family Support

All of us at fatal accident claims solicitors appreciate how difficult it is for the family members left behind following unlawful killing of a loved one to find help and support.  Some factors that family members have to consider is who is entitled to bring an action against the person or persons who caused the accident or incident.

Say for instance, there is the a typical family of today, a single parent, married but now separated from the father living with another and there are children to the first relationship and the second relationship.  Who then is entitled to claim?  Who is responsible for the burial?  Who is entitled to the deceased’s personal belongings?

Share Is The Answer

In the above arrangement, in this instance, the common factor is that the father has died due to a fatal road accident claim for example.  He has left children under 18 to his wife, he has separated from her but not actually divorced.  He pays her some maintenance but now lives with another person who also has a child to him under 18 years of age.

The question who is entitled to claim compensation for the fatal road accident?  The answer will probably be all.  As the deceased is still married the wife has a legal right to claim for dependency.  She can show that she was receiving some money from the deceased prior to death and as a result she and her children will be entitled to claim.

In addition, the partner at the time of death can claim compensation for herself, only if she can prove they were living together as ‘husband and wife’ for a period of two years immediately prior to the unlawful killing in a road traffic accident or as the ease may be.  In addition his partner’s child may also claim for dependency and any child to her (not his biological child) may claim for dependency providing he treated the child as his own.

There is only one pot of money can can be claimed for dependency and that is the deceased own earnings.  The amount will be divided between all the dependents further details can be found on this website fatal accident claims and dependency awards.

Compensation for Fatal Accident Claims

If you are a family member, unsure of what to do, or seeking advice on behalf of a loved one who you think is entitled to claim compensation for a fatal accident on the road, at work or due to a criminal act please contact us.  No matter what the query we are here to help you with our free family support service.  We work under a no win no fee solicitor service so you have nothing to worry about by seeking advice.