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
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.
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.
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.
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;
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’.
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:
Return to parents of funeral expenses.
Damage for personal items such as clothing.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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:
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  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”
“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  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  PIQR 217 (referred to in Kortke v Saffarinig  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  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.
“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  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.
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.
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.
(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.
Q: my partner has died what rights do I have?
A: If you are not married, it depends on whether a Will was left; the Will dictates how their Estate (everything they own) is divided. If a Will is not made, you may not have any right to inherit from your partners Estate because of the inheritance law: ‘Rules of Intestacy’.
Q: Do unmarried couples have the same rights as married couples?
A: No, the law in England and Wales doesn’t give unmarried couples the same rights as married couples, the length of time you are together is irrelevant. A Will is the most viable way of protecting yourself before a loved one dies.
Q: What rights do cohabiting couples have when their partner dies?
A: Being in a so called ‘common law’ partnership will not give couples any legal protection whatsoever, and so under the law, if your partner dies and you are not married, then you have no right to inherit anything unless your partner that has passed had left a Will.
Q: What if my partner died without a will?
A: The Rules of Intestacy say that their inheritance goes to their closest living blood relatives in a specific order. If your partner does not have a Will, they’re classed as dying intestate and the Rules of Intestacy will apply.
Q: Does that mean I can’t inherit anything?
A: No, if your partner dies, you can still make a claim on their estate; whether they have a Will or not. For example, if you shared a join bank account, you would automatically get any money in those accounts as this will not form part of the Estate. If you are Joint Tenants on a property, your late partner’s share will pass to you under the Rights of Survivorship.
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.
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.
changes in mental ability.
low platelet (blood clotting cells) count.
abnormal heart functions.
chills due to fall in body temperature.
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.
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.“
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 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.
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.
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.
In Bodmin on the A30 a fatal crash has killed an elderly woman 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 with causing death by dangerous driving are appealing for witnesses.
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.
Who can claim?
• 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.
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.
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.
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.
Our Friendly Team Can Help
We will not share your data with any third parties or affiliates.
Fatal Accident Claims is the trading name of R. James Hutcheon Solicitors, a limited company registered in England and Wales (registration number: 10156229). Registered office address: 98 Rose Lane, Liverpool, L18 8AG. VAT registration number: 872002651.
We are authorised & regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number: 630314) and a member of the Law Society.