Category Archives: Disaster Claims

Plane Crashes – What is the Safest Seat?

What is the Safest Seat on the Plane?

Thankfully, plane crashes are rare and it is often said that it is the safest form of transport.  Indeed there were no commercial plane crashes at all during 2017.  This is confirmed in a recent article from Reuters, the safest year on record for commercial travel.

But did you know the majority of plane crashes are survivable so you have a good chance of escaping a plane crash alive and well.  So it is worth taking time to read this article, it could save your life!

This evidence comes from a Dutch firm To70 Aviation Consultants in charge with safety assessments on plane travel world wide.  Thus no fatal accident claims were made via air travel in 2017.  A good year to fly.

How to survive a plane crash disaster

Whilst the UK is now looking towards their holidays this summer, there are articles that provide a survival guide in the event of a plane crash.

The instructions from Wikepedia concerning the ‘Brace Position‘ is below:

  1. “Bend over! Stay down!”
  2. “Brace for impact! Prepare for crash-landing, prepare for crash-landing! Heads down! …
  3. “Brace!” ( repeated until the aircraft lands.)
  4. “Brace! Brace! Stay down!”
  5. “Brace, brace! Heads down, grab your ankles!”
  6. “Brace! Brace! …
  7. “Get your heads down, stay down!”
  8. “Heads down, grab ankles, stay down.”

We then come to the guide offered by the Telegraph on how to survive a plane crash.

The article in the Telegraph points to some fundamental facts:

  • The first air disaster fatal accident claims was in 1908.
  • The vast majority of plane crashes are survivable.
  • Of 568 plane crashes in the US 1993-2000 – a staggering 90% of passengers and crew survived the air crash.
  • Contrary to popular belief, it says that aircraft travel is not the safest mode of transportation.
  • Travel by rail is said to be the safest form of travel in terms of accidents per journey.
  • A third of fatal plane fatalities do not survive due to fire and smoke.
How-to-survive-a-plane-crash – avoiding fatal accidents

The survival guide offered by the Telegraph essentially informs you to listen to the safety announcements on board and essentially remember the drill by the crew for instance:

  • Know where your nearest exit is on the plane.
  • That the nearest exist could be behind you.
  • Form the ‘brace position’ prior to impact.
  • Put on your oxygen mask prior to putting the mask on your children.
  • Stayed buckled up on the plane when seated.


According to the Aviation Safety Network  ASN the safest seat on the plane are those who are sitting within 5 rows of an emergency exit.  Those passengers with this zone have the greatest prospects of surviving a fatality from a plane crash according to a study in 2008.

What about the front of the Plane?

Usually for first class passengers, but those who sit at the front of a plane are more likely to die in a fatal accident.

What about Aisle or Window?

The window seat is marginally worse than the aisle seat. The Greenwich study advised that the Aisle seat was 65% better chance of surviving death in a plane crash than a window seat at 58%.

So the safest plane seat?

This is the middle row of the plane at the rear within 5 rows of an emergency exit.  Make sure you know where the emergency exit is, take the Aisle seat and always were your seat belt.

Apart from all that advice, please ensure you enjoy your holiday or business trip!


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


Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Fatal Injury Claims

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Fatal Injury Claims

Once again the deadly silent killer may have taken more lives.  It has been reported that two adults and a dog have been found on the Norfolk Broads.

The emergency services were called to the boat in the afternoon as the craft was said to be moored for some time without any signs of activity.

Police had discovered the deaths and they are being treated as ‘unexplained.’  Investigations are now underway to discover the cause of the deaths.

In an article on the press it refers to the Canal & River Trust and Environment Agency that warns boaters die each year or are seriously ill by carbon monoxide poisoning.

Boats are built to keep water out, but this also makes them good containers for gasses and fumes’ the scheme said.

Similar Carbon Monoxide Deaths on a Boat 2013

This story if proven that the fatal deaths were caused by carbon monoxide poisoning in 2013 when a 36 year old lady and her 10 year old datugher tragically died in their sleep on a boat when over-come by the escape of carbon monoxide fumes.   Her partner who was a gas fitter was charged and convicted of manslaughter after installing a modified generator on the boat.








Nervous Shock and Fatal Accident Claims

The law in this area is outdated, like most of the Fatal Accident Act 1976, the law that has been made since the passing of the Act and everything before it.  The Fatal Accident Act 1976 is now 40 years old.  The family unit in the day, typical white ‘Christian’ Male and Female, married with 2.2 children has changed dramatically since the laws have been passed.  Today divorce rates have rocketed, there are less marriages, people choosing to live together, same sex marriages and so on.

The fatal accident laws however still are ‘back-in-day’ typically the claim for compensation following an unlawful killing in an accident at work or road traffic accident for instance, stems from the bread-winner (typically the husband) losing his life, the the wife and children claiming the dependency award and bereavement.  When things don’t fit in, there tends to be unnecessary heartache.

But what then on the question of nervous shock following a loved one witnesses the death of a loved one.  Often in road traffic accidents and in disaster cases such as airplane crashes and the Hillsborough Disaster.

Nervous Shock – Secondary Victim

Compensation for nervous shock is governed by old law passed before the internet and social media. A claim for nervous shock can be made if a close relative, normally the next of kin, witnesses the death of a loved one and suffers some form of psychiatric injury or ‘nervous shock.’ The law limits the family members who can claim by using the words ‘close love and affection between the person killed (primary victim) and the family member in shock (secondary victim).

As a result of witnessing the tragic events, (the court has in mind ‘eye witness’) due to the close proximity of the relationship and witnessing the event, if harm occurs a claim for compensation can be made against the party at fault.

However, what if the family member did not ‘eye witness’ the event but came to the scene of the accident in minutes after the fatal accident?  The closer in time and space following the accident and witnessing the scene the more likely the court will grant an award of compensation for the psychiatric shock.

The fact that a close family member may witness a disaster for instance on TV (Hillsborough disaster springs to mind) or on Social Media, unfortunately will not give rise to a claim.  The law is based on public policy not by rational understanding.  Once again the Courts have concerned themselves with opening the ‘flood-gates’ of claims.

The law under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 needs updating quickly and so does the common law where nervous shock arises following a fatal accident so that proper compensation can be awarded to help the family, the victims of such tragic and catastrophic events.  Compensation is not a dirty word, we are getting to a point where people have to justify an award.  It is awarded to help the family not get into poverty, to help pay the bills and just relevie some of the stress following the death of a loved one and here, in addition a further family member also suffering a mental illness.

My Unmarried Partner Dies – But Still Married, Can I Claim?

My Unmarried Partner Dies – But Still Married, Can I Claim?

This can be a heartbreaking situation following a fatal accident claim.  Where a couple are not married but are living together there is no automatic right for the surviving partner to bring an action for the unlawful death following a fatal accident.  This is governed by the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 which states that if there are co-habities, then the survivor can only claim as a dependant of the loss of their loved one if they were living together as ‘husband and wife’ for a period of 2 years immediately prior to death.  The law has subsequently been updated to included same sex co-habities.

Fatal Accident Compensation Claims

The law was challenged under Section 4 of the Human Rights Act  1988 in a case called in a case called Swift v Secretary of State 2013 to overturn the offending section 1(3)(b) of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (as amended) as incompatible and thus should be overturned.

Fatal Accidents Act 1976

Under the Fatal Accidents Act, 1976, only 3 groups of people are entitled to make a fatal accident compensation claim following the death of an individual. They are:

  • dependants of the deceased,
  • close relatives of the deceased,
  • deceased’s estate.

Dependency claims are usually  ‘financial dependents’ of the deceased under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, husbands, wives or civil partners, parents or ascendants, children or other descendants and brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles.

But for co-habitees, the law has been strictly applied and the Human Rights Act does not help.  In the above case of Ms Swift she had been living with her partner for just 6 months prior to his untimely death where he was fatally injured at work.  She was pregnant at the time of death.  Despite the fact she was having his child she could not be classed as a dependent of her partner because she did not live with him for a period of 2 years prior to death as ‘husband and wife.’  Her appeal was dismissed and as said before even the Human Right Act would not help her.  The same will apply to a Civil Partnership.

What if the Deceased Co-Habitee Was Also Married?

In this was the case, the estranged wife will also be able to claim as a dependent and also claim a bereavement award as she will come under list of limited people who can claim.

However if the Co-habitee had been living with his or her partner for more than 2 years prior to death as ‘husband and wife’ then the co-habitiee may also claim for a dependency award along side the ‘married partner.’  This is because there can be more than one dependant who can claim at the same time.

So if there are also children to the relationship of the deceased, each child may also be able to claim for a dependency award in addition to the partner(s) of the deceased.

If there is a conflict between dependents as to who can claim for a death following an accident they dependents may require separate legal advice from specialist fatal accident claim solicitors.

Why Did The Courts Got It Wrong Over Many Years? (Part 3)

Why Did The Courts Got It Wrong Over Many Years?

The Ogden Tables were used to compensate future awards of compensation for fatal accident dependents and victims of life changing injuries.  The Ogden Tables use what are called ‘multipliers’ that is a calculation to apply a fixed lump sum award the claimant would received today and ‘discount’ the compensation lump sum due to the fact that the claimant would get the money now rather than piece meal over what can be many years into the future.

In fatal accident claims, however, the Courts in the 1970’s (see case of Cookson v Knowles [1979] in particular where Lord Fraser stated:

‘In a personal injury case, if the injured person has survived until the date of trial, that is a known fact…But in a fatal accident case, the multiplier must be selected once and for all as at the date of death because everything that might have happened to the deceased after that date remains uncertain…’

Thus to calculate the future compensation for dependants from the date of death rather than the date of trial (which happens as a matter of routine in life changing injury claims) has the effect of under-compensating the dependants of the deceased.  Why?  This is because the Odgen Tables used to calculate the future awards were designed to calculate the ‘multiplier’ from the date of trial not the date of death.

So if there is a long delay between the date of death and date of trial or settlement this will lead to injustice and under-compensation to the dependents.  This has been a known fact for many years but the Courts have done nothing about it until the decision in Knauer v MOJ 2016.  The mis-use by the Courts of the Ogden Tables was considered in White v ESAB Group (UK) Ltd [2012] and Aths v Ms [2002] EWCA Civ 972 and criticised in Corbett v Braking HA [1991].

Just one good fatal accident decision in many years has taken place where the Supreme Court in the case of Knauer v MOJ 2016 decided to change the law so that the multiplier must run from the date of trial, not the date of death.  This can add thousands of pounds for bereaved families who have been under-compensated and let down the the Government and the Judiciary.

[Author Ronnie Hutcheon – Principal Solicitor in the Firm of R James Hutcheon Solicitors]

But the Courts thought they were bound by the past judgement and thus the law could not be changed without the Government changing the law.

Even the Law Commission Report entitled Claims for Wrongful Death suggested to the Government that the law should be changed (among other issues) so that compensation for fatal accident claims for future awards should be used the same way as lift changing injury claim, that is The Ogden Tables for future awards for compensation should be from the date of trial not the date of death.

Fatal Injury Law Commission Report – [Click to View]

Common sense has played a part here with practical know how of the change in times but lest not forget the injustice to victims in the past whose fatal accident claims have been vastly under compensated by the slow changing pace of the Judiciary and the constant strength and lobbing of Government by insurance companies who  continue to influence the Government.  The losers are the victims.  Help us change the law and sign our Government E-Petition on bereavement awards.

Further reading

Fatal Accident Compensation – Calculate Future Awards (Part 1)

Fatal Accident Compensation – Calculate Future Awards (Part 2)

Fatal Accident Compensation – Calculate Future Awards (Part 3)

There are time limits that apply to make a fatal accident claim so please do not leave it late. If you are reading this website to help a family member or friend who has not yet obtain advice you can contact us to discuss options.  Whatever the circumstances, contact us.

Click on our CONTACT US to call or email us via our Online Form.


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Fatal Accident Compensation – Calculate Future Awards (Part 2)

In Part 1 fatal accident solicitors considered the general complex issues of how calculating future awards for lump sum compensation for a fatal accident or fatal disease can be complex.  Needless to say, once again, as fatal accident solicitors specialising in this area in addition to serious life changing injury claims, the future calculation for compensation leaves the victims, in our view under compensated.

Why?  It is all down to how the large discount is applied to future lump sum compensation awards for a fatal accident or serious life changing injuries.  The discount applied applies on the award of the compensation so as not to ‘over compensate’ the dependents or victim of a life changing injury claim.  Thus to use an similar example, if the dependents or personal injury victim sustaining serious injury claim is valued at say £100,000 over a period of 10 years, if that amount was put into stocks and shares over a period of 10 years, there is a chance that the investment will grow over time and thus the net value would be more than the £100,000.  This is unfair and has been attacked as the returns may not be significant or at all as there is a chance there could be heavy losses.

‘Victims and families whose loved one have been killed in a fatal accident or sustained a serious life changing injury have been under compensated for years…’ 

[Author Ronnie Hutcheon, Principal Solicitor of R James Hutcheon Solicitors]

Fatal Injury Bereavement Award

Thus the dependents compensation for a fatal accident or the victim of a serious life changing injury claim are being under-compensated and have been over many years.  Further the Conservative Government has also since April 2013 not only reduced solicitor costs if they win a compensation claim for fatal accident or injury but now solicitors are forced to take up to 25% of the victim’s compensation award.  Thus to say that the aim of compensation is to put the claimant victim in the same financial position but for the death or accident is a misnomer.

Uee of the Ogden Table To Compensate Fatal Accident Claimants

The Ogden Tables are used by fatal accident solicitor and personal injury solicitor who specialise in life changing injuries where the future awards of compensation have to be considered.  Here we will discuss only fatal accident compensation claims due to the recent important case of Knauer v MOJ by the Supreme Court in 2016 increased compenstion following the unalwful killing of a person in an accident by just using the Ogden Tables in the way they were intended.  Had the Courts used the Tables correctly it would have stopped thousands of bereaved families whose fatal accident compensation claims were settled by their Solicitor or the Courts over many years.

How Solicitors Calculate Future Compensation After Death (Part 1)

Generally it is relatively easy to calculate the compensation awards to dependants of the deceased prior to trial or settlement of the claim.  This is because what has happened in the past can be evaluated with precision.  There is no assumptions or what ifs?

Some complex calculations for fatal accident compensation which arise when the claims comes to be settled can give rise to uncertainty.

Some examples where uncertainly will arise and difficult questions have to be determined by the Courts and the solicitors acting in the compensation claim for a fatal accident:

  • The deceased had recently started his own business (so there is no past record on how well the business would have done).
  • The deceased was only 16 years old so there is little work experience or examination results to establish a clear future career path.
  • The deceased was destined to be a sporting great…but for the fatal accident.

There are many other examples where a future calculation for possible fatal accident compensation awards can give rise to difficult assessments and calculations.  The fatal accident compensation solicitor will have to consider all the evidence and present the best possible case to the Courts.  Once this evidence has been produced the Solicitors dealing with the fatal injury claim will then use what is called ‘The Ogden Tables‘ to consider the future calculation of compensation awarded.

Calculation of Future Fatal Accident Compensation – Ogden Tables

The Ogden Tables are designed not by solicitors as such but by accountants or actuaries who use various data such as age, discounts rates, life tables etc to establish how much a lump sum compensation award for a fatal accident would be worth if the dependent a received all the money ‘today’ at once rather than over a period of years had the deceased lived.  This is important as the dependants of the deceased should not be ‘over-compensated’ and importantly ‘under-compensated.’

So if, say, the dependants of the deceased had a future award of compensation for a fatal accident of a loved one assessed at £100,000 and that amount is the equivalent of say 10 years future award.  If the dependant received £100,000 today rather than over a period of 10 years, the law of compensation (the Defendant insurance company) would be up in arms as the dependants would have been over-compensated.  Why?  Fatal accident solicitors call this ‘accelerated payment’ the dependants have received all the money in advance in one lump sum rather than over the 10 year period.  Therefore that £100,000 could be invested in stock and shares or put in a bank account gaining interest and any investment returns would result in an additional award to the dependants which is prohibited i.e. the dependants have been over-compensated.

Therefore what the courts will do is apply a discount to the compensation so that the dependants are not over-compensated.  Therefore rather than receive £100,000 today, the compensation will be reduced by a complex calculation so that the award may be £95,000 or £90,000 and so on.  The longer the award in years terms into the future, the greater the compensation discount.

The actual scheme and philosophy of making dependants of the deceased who receive compensation for a fatal accident claim has been under attack by many fatal accident solicitors and personal injury practitioners well before the stock-market crash of 2007.  This is because the dependants or the injured victim is forced to invest the compensation in stock and shares or if the dependants or injured victim are more risk adverse, to keep the compensation in a bank account.

However, as all savers are aware, the interest on bank accounts are quite pitiful and in some cases we here are of negative benefit. The compensation award is there for a purpose and should not be put at risk in stocks and shares. Further the discount applied to the future awards are still very high meaning that in real terms the compensation for fatal accident claims and personal injury claims are consistently over many years under valued.  The fault of the to Government once again slow to react help victims but quick to protect insurance companies.

See Also:

Fatal Accident Compensation – Calculate Future Awards (Part 1)

Fatal Accident Compensation – Calculate Future Awards (Part 2)

Fatal Accident Compensation – Calculate Future Awards (Part 3)

Driver’s – Freak Fatal Injury – Inquest Told

Fatal Injury to Driver

A racing driver in America was struck by debris from another racing car at the ABC Supply 500, in Pennsylvania towards the end of summer last year.

The driver sustained fatal injuries when the leading vehicle struck a barrier at about 200 miles per hour which caused parts of the racing car to depart from the vehicle and scatter around the track.

Regrettably and with tragic and horrific results a piece of the vehicle struck the racing vehicle behind, striking the driver’s helmet causing the fatal injury.

The racing driver was said to be unconscious.  He was taken to hospital for emergency attention but with regret he died the day after the ‘freak accident.

Inquest Hearing Held in the UK


The BBC has reported that the Northampton Coroner, Anne Pember read out a statement from the racing driver’s father who said that the tragic event was a ‘freak accident.’

“Justin was unconscious, he was extracted from the car and rushed to hospital. He underwent surgery and was kept on a life support machine until the following day.

“The decision was then taken to switch off the machine. Justin was a kind, caring and loving son who is sadly missed by all of his family and friends.”

Mrs Pember concluded that Wilson’s death was accidental.

More Reading:

Fatal Injury – Telegraph

Fatal Injury – BBC

Coroner’s Court and Inquest Hearings & Fatal Injury

It is often considered mysterious the powers of the Coroner due to its long established authority to consider deaths following a fatal injury or fatal injuries in certain circumstances that are unclear or unusual.

In simple terms the Coroner will order, usually the Police in road traffic accidents or the Health and Safety Executive in fatal injury accidents at work to undertake all relevant investigations into the death.  Witnesses will be spoken to, statements obtained, pictures and video evidence considered.

The Coroner’s court is ‘factual’ it is concerned only with the facts of the case not who is to blame but often, the facts will point heavily to who is to blame.

Representation at Coroner’s Courts

At an Inquest Hearing, the bereaved families will experience the legal process for the first time.  It can be challenging, worrying and sometimes hard to understand the process but the Coroner will do his or her best.  But sometimes the evidence should be tested by fatal accident solicitors acting for the bereaved families. The witnesses can be cross-examined within certain restraints and likewise expert evidence that may be introduced to form opinions about how the fatal injury was caused.

Here at the fatal injury claims solicitor we often feel the families do need the help and assistant from expert solicitors to help them understand the process and to make representation often under a no win no fee solicitor agreement.

If anyone needs help or advice please contact us today: fatal injury solicitors.

Fatal Injury – Sign our Bereavement E-Petition

Fatal Child Injury and Bereavement Award

In law, if a child is killed in an no fault accident, do you know that a monetary value of only £12,980 is awarded.  The same for an adult.

If an adult child is killed (18 years plus) parents are entitled to absolutely £nothing.

Please Help Stop The Injustice

Fatal Injury Bereavement Award

Sign our Government E-Petition today “Increase the Bereavement Award” and please share on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and other Social Medial Platforms.

For more information of the injustice for bereaved families following a fatal accident please click on our webpage Bereavement Award.

Thank You.

All at R James Hutcheon Solicitors & Bereaved Families