Death by Careless Driving – Compensation

Death by Careless Driving Compensation Guide 2021

Many deaths on UK roads are caused by a fatal road accident due to death by careless driving. This page is dedicated to fatal accident compensation claims caused by careless driving.

For information on death by dangerous driving, please click this link.

Criminal Offences

  • Causing Death by Careless or Inconsiderate Driving: (Section 2B of the Road Traffic Act 1988, amended by the Road Safety Act 2006, s. 20).
  • Causing Death by Dangerous Driving: (Section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 1988).
  • Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs: (Section 3A Road Traffic Act (RTA) 1988).

Examples of Careless Driving:

  •  Driving too close to another vehicle
  • Driving through a red light by mistake
  • Overtaking on the inside
  • Turning in to path of another vehicle
  • Being avoidably distracted by the radio, cigarette etc.

Examples of Causing Death By Dangerous Driving:

  • Racing / going too fast / driving too aggressively
  • Ignoring traffic lights
  • Overtaking dangerously
  • Driving when knowing there is a serious fault with the vehicle
  • Being dangerously distracted by a map / phone / radio etc.

Process of Investigation/Claim

Firstly, in all road traffic accidents were there has been a fatality, the police conduct an initial investigation assessing the road surface, weather conditions and the state of any vehicles involved.

Crown Prosecution Service will then assess whether any individual involved will face prosecution. Compensation claims can then be made against the party at fault from a claimant who was a dependant family member of the deceased.

Penalties Inflicted on the Defendant

Causing death by careless driving:

  • Maximum of 5 years in prison, disqualified from driving for a minimum of 1 year

Causing death by dangerous driving:

  • Maximum of 14 years in prison, disqualified from driving for a minimum of 2 years

Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs:

  • Maximum 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both, & disqualified for a minimum of 2 years


There can be no true repayment when a life is tragically lost in a road traffic accident, yet the Law must make every attempt possible to fully reimburse those who were closest with the deceased. When assessing whether this actually occurs, a number of statistics have to be considered.

  • Between September 2012 & September 2013, there was a 38% increase in official deaths caused by dangerous driving.
  • In the same time period, there has been a 14% decrease in deaths caused by careless driving.
  • Only 60% of drivers who have been involved in a traffic accident involving a fatality are actually prosecuted.
  • The average prison sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is 4 years.
  • In 2006 there were 381 convictions in England and Wales for serious driving charges for causing death, but only 58 resulted in imprisonment of more than five years.
  • The number of deaths involving drink/drug drive accidents soared by 26% in 2012.

Analysis of the Statistics

Regarding the sentencing of ‘causing death by dangerous driving’ it could be said that the average of 4 years imprisonment is not nearly enough considering an individual has paid the ultimate price as a result of a defendants’ actions. It could also be argued that despite no prison sentence being sufficient enough to compensate for the loss of someone’s whole life, the implementation of a maximum prison sentence of 14 years is insufficient considering there is no maximum prison sentence for murder or manslaughter.

Additionally, when assessing the average prison sentence of 4 years it could be said that this is far too low considering the fact someone had died as a result of their dangerous driving. It would be reasonable to expect that the average prison sentence should be around half of what the maximum sentence is, yet the actual average is 3 years short of this.

Fatal Accident Compensation Advice

Who can claim on behalf of the deceased following a death due to careless driving?

  • 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 a 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.
  • Bereavement award:
    • The 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 £12980.

Contact us today to make a death by careless driving compensation claim.

Bereavement Award in Fatal Accident Claims

The benchmark figure of £12980 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, yet because of a combination of a trend low payment figures and small prison sentences for the defendant, many of these cases can leave dependents feeling as if they are being denied true justice because of the attitude of the Law.

At R James Hutcheon Solicitors we can guarantee that we will do our utmost to reassure and fully support any client who has suffered the bereavement of a loved one, following the death caused by careless driving who they were dependant upon and is looking to pursue a claim. We will look to ensure that the unfair nature of this area of Law, in particular, does not result in our clients feeling abandoned. Our work will help mitigate the effects of such an unjust concept to help reimburse the clients of their loss in the hope they can begin to attempt to recommence their life.