Wrongful Death Compensation in the UK
We are specialist solicitors in wrongful death compensation in the UK. Find out more about making a wrongful claim and the awards available to you.
In their report, the Law Commission has looked into reforming the Fatal Accidents Act 1976: Claims for Wrongful Death (1997) Consultation Paper. The harsh unfairness of the 1976 Act is mirrored under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme and has been criticised by the Criminal Injuries Compensation review. The conclusion was that more family members should be entitled to claim, and compensation for wrongful deaths should be increased.
Nevertheless, remember that as solicitors specialising in making wrongful death claims, you can claim many other heads of damages and wrongful death awards. Please get in touch with us for further information.
The Process of Claiming for Wrongful Death
If you are looking to make a claim for wrongful death, the first part of the process is to look into hiring a specialist solicitor. Solicitors are there to offer advice and handle the entire process without fault so that you don’t have to, allowing you to grieve in peace. Before appointing a firm, you should conduct thorough research and carefully examine the options available to you. You will want to find a firm that will listen to you, work on a no win no fee basis, provide competent advice, and has experience of successful wrongful death claims. When you reach out to a solicitor, they should be able to offer free no-obligation advice and clearly explain the potential options based on your specific circumstances.
After the initial consultation stage and considering your options, you can then choose to hire a firm to act on your behalf. When you appoint a firm, they will start processing your claim right away. The solicitors will gather all the information and evidence required to build a strong case showing wrongful death. The vast majority of cases are settled out of court. In this scenario, the other party has accepted liability and a settlement agreement has been reached. Should the other party continue to deny liability or an agreement is not reached on compensation, then the case will go to court where a judge will decide.
The Law Commission
The Law Commission recommended that a bereavement award should be extended to:
- Parent and child,
- Same-sex partners (this has now be made law),
- Wrongful death awards will be paid at £10K for a spouse and £5K each and all of the other family members to a maximum of £50,000.
But even here, the compensation for a bereavement award is still too low. The Law Commission reconcile that there is a misconception of the purpose of bereavement awards, that his people think that it is the value of what society places on life. That is not the purpose. If not, then what is the purpose of it? The law is and should be justice. There is no justice, and bereaved families across England and Wales are sadly being forced into financial difficulty and unnecessary stress when they need help at most in life.
Examples of Wrongful Death Compensation
Wrongful death is defined as a legal claim that can be pursued following a person’s death due to someone else’s wrongful actions. A lot of cases are brought due to negligence, such as dangerous driving or medical malpractice. Murder with intent can also lead to a claim, but as wrongful death is a civil claim, the burden of proof differs when compared to criminal proceedings. In the UK, the burden of proof is based on the balance of probabilities.
To help you learn more about what constitutes wrongful death and how much compensation can be awarded, this section will look at some real-life examples as reported by news outlets.
Workplace Wrongful Deaths
The workplace is one of the common situations where a wrongful death can occur. Accidents are often caused by slips and trips, manual labour, machinery, repetitive movements, and vehicles, to name just a few. Certain sectors, such as construction and agriculture, are more dangerous and pose a serious threat to life. Employers and their staff should go above and beyond to keep themselves and others safe, especially when working on hazardous tasks.
Engineer Crushed to Death
Colin Willoughby, aged 52, sadly died in May 2018 while working. The engineer was working for Graham Engineering Ltd when he was crushed by a 1,000 tonne hydraulic press after the piston came loose. Mr Willoughby tragically died instantly. The press was previously inspected and concluded to be in a poor condition. While it was described as having an unusual shape and being extremely heavy, no individual risk assessment was carried out. A formal risk assessment was also not carried out before its use in May 2018. The press was lifted twice using two fork-lift trucks despite its weight exceeding the safe working load limits.
Due to several hazards, Grahram Engineering Ltd was found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The firm was ordered by a judge to pay £645,487.82.
Wrongful Deaths From Extreme Activities
Extreme activities and sports can be a highly rewarding experience, helping people venture out of their comfort zones and guaranteeing an adrenaline rush. These thrilling and adventurous activities can include anything from bungee jumping and skydiving to river rafting, sea diving and mountain climbing, to name just a few. Experiences like these wouldn’t be as exciting if they didn’t come with risks. Accidents can occasionally happen through negligence and recklessness. Extreme activities require adequate training, functioning safety equipment, professional behaviour, and proper guidance.
9 Year Old Wins £290,000 for Dad’s Death
In 2012, Lex Warner sadly died after diving off Cape Wrath in Scotland. Hours before performing a technical dive, he suffered an abdominal injury in a fall while wearing heavy equipment and fins. While in the water, Mr Warner encountered issues as a result of his injuries and he became unresponsive before being lifted to the surface.
After a lengthy legal battle, Mr Warner’s nine-year-old son has been awarded a £290,000 payout. The judge ruled at Edinburgh’s Court of Session that the boat’s captain failed to take enough action to minimise risks. In particular, the judge acknowledged that the captain failed to recognise that arrangements “permitted or even encouraged” divers to walk on the deck while wearing fins. This “risky activity” is believed to have led to Mr Warner’s death when he began to struggle during the dive.