Dependency Claims Guide 2022
Welcome to our 2022 guide for dependency claims. We will help you learn everything you need to know about what a dependency claim is, who is eligible to make a claim, and how you can make a claim. We are expert solicitors with specialist knowledge in dependency claims, and we will support you through this difficult time.
If you would like to make a dependency claim or have questions about this area of law, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Following a fatal accident claim, there can be many claims made by the deceased’s family or near relatives, including former husband or wife and partners. Dependency claims are made by immediate or close relatives of the deceased who have been deprived of their support and services. It is a compensation claim, not for the deceased but for their family after death.
As one judge put it:
“It is not a claim the deceased could have pursued in his own life because it is for damages suffered not by himself, but by his family after death.”
To be awarded dependency claim compensation following a fatal accident, the dependents would have to show that had the deceased survived their injuries, they would have been able to recover compensation in their own right. No claim can be found if the claim would have inevitably failed due to limitation problems.
Any damages awarded are subject to a reduction for contributory negligence. If the deceased’s death was caused by the negligence of one of his dependents, that negligence does not affect the claims of the other dependents, Dodds v Dodds  QB 543.
The Fatal Accident Act 1976 provides a list of possible dependents who can make a compensation claim. Below is a list of possible dependents who may have been financially dependent upon the deceased and/or received some form of care or ‘services’ from the deceased before death and that financial or service was likely to continue but for the death. They must be able to prove loss or a ‘reasonable expectation of the service’.
- The wife or husband or former wife or husband of the deceased
- The civil partner or former civil partner of the deceased
- A person living with the deceased immediately before the death
- Any parent or other ascendant of the deceased
- Any person treated by the deceased as his parent
- Any child or other descendant of the deceased
- Any person treated as a child of the deceased as a child of the family in any marriage or civil partnership that the deceased was in
- Any brother, sister, uncle or aunt, or their children of the deceased
Only One Claim Can Be Made for All Dependents
Please note that only one action can be brought on behalf of the estate and dependents in accordance with s.2(3) Fatal Accidents Act 1976. In a case called Cooper v Williams  2 QB 567, the Court confirmed that claimants owe a duty to ensure all reasonable steps have been taken to see that all the dependents of the deceased who desire to claim for their loss are named as persons on whose behalf it is brought.
As experienced fatal accident solicitors, we will assess if each possible family member or partner/former partner of the deceased was in some way financially dependent or dependent upon the deceased for services.
Examples of Financial Dependency
Dependents of the deceased, under the Fatal Accident Act 1976, are financially dependent if they can show that they had a reasonable expectation that the deceased would have continued to benefit had the dependents had the deceased survived. It is important to note that the dependents do not have to show that the deceased, before death, actually made any financial payments to them, all they need to show is that it was a reasonable expectation that had the deceased survived, he/she would have made a financial payment in the future. Naturally, if the deceased had already made payments before death, it will be easier to prove by your solicitor.
A financial dependency claim can be made where the dependents could show that as a result of death, they are financially worse off or disadvantaged. The most common situation is where the surviving partner has lost the deceased’s income. However, children of the deceased may also be financially dependent as they can show that the deceased would have paid for their upkeep, holidays, schooling, tuition fees, pocket money, purchase of clothes and so on.
Examples of Loss of Services Dependency
It is not just about the money that dependents can claim but also the services the deceased undertook before death or that there was a reasonable expectation that the deceased would have provided the services had he/she survived.
The most common services dependency is as follows:
- Help with household chores
- DIY and maintenance of the main home or a dependent’s home
- Helping and assisting elderly parents of the deceased or family members
- Caring for a dependent
Loss of service dependency is essentially any act, assistance and/or tasks performed by the deceased for the benefit of the dependants. As a result of death, the dependents will now need to rely upon others to help or care for them or, alternatively, pay a contractor or a professional to undertake those services the deceased would have provided for free (or lower cost).
A dependency claim cannot be greater than what the deceased would have been able to provide either financially or via a services dependency. If we take a financial services dependency claim, for example, where there is reliance upon the deceased income from work, the claim cannot be made beyond what the deceased’s retirement age would have been, taking into account his/her working history and health. Therefore if the deceased was 57 years of age and it was expected he/she would work until 67 years, then the dependency claim on income would be for a further ten years, providing that the dependents would have survived ten years from the date of death. Naturally, beyond retirement, the dependents may also be entitled to additional financial support such as pension payments and income from other assets and savings of the deceased until expected death.
The same principle also applies to loss of services. If the deceased, say, was 62 years of age at the time of death and he/she had a life expectancy of a further 20 years, the dependents (subject to them expecting to survive by 20 years) could reply on a services dependency for those remaining years to help with household chores, gardening, DIY, care services and similar.
Dependency claims under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 can be substantial. Generally speaking, the compensation for dependency will be greater if the deceased was at work, in good health, in his/her mid to late 20s to 40s and had a partner and children (also in good health). This means that there could be 40-50 years plus of financial dependency on behalf of the deceased’s partner and the services claim for looking after the children and home. Such claims often run into six-figure sums.
However, as fatal accident claim solicitors, we act for various dependents of the deceased, including sisters, brothers, parents, and former partners. Therefore especially in Asian families, where parents are often dependent upon their children, especially first born male children, due to their cultural and religious beliefs, the dependency claims can be substantial even though, say, the child was still at school or relatively young.
The bereavement award is a similar form of fatal accident compensation but has different criteria. Only the wife or husband of the deceased, and where the deceased was a minor (under the age of 18 years) who was never married, for the benefit of his parents. Interest can also be claimed regarding a fatal accident case on the award running from the date of death.
The latest update to the Bereavement Award occurred in May 2020. As a result of the Government reviewing the award for bereavement following the loss of a loved one by the Damages for Bereavement (Variation of Sum) (England and Wales) Order 2020, the compensation for a bereavement award has been increased from £12,980 to £15,120. A paltry £2,140 addition to an unjust award. The last time the award was increased was seven years ago.
The Three-Stage Test of a Fatal Accident Award
When considering any fatal accident claim to include a claim for dependents under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, assessment of a fatal accident award can be very complicated, which is why you should always instruct a specialist fatal accident solicitor.
The assessment, simply put, is a 3 stage test:
- Establish the earnings/income of the deceased, less living expenses – this gives the court’s the annual dependence or what is called the ‘multiplicand.’
- The multiplicand is then multiplied by the number of years purchase, the ‘multiplier.’
- The figure is then subject to the element of reasonable future probability, which is reflected in the multiplier in stage 2.
In one case, the court, when considering the dependency claim on behalf of a child, agreed that the child was dependent on the mother’s income and awarded £5,074 pa with a multiplier of 7 years post-death of the mother, bringing the claim to £35,520. It is the damage to the dependent herself resulting from the death which must be assessed to determine the damages to be awarded to her and not anyone else. The judge dismissed the defendant’s argument in this fatal accident claim that a discount should be made since the husband was better off due to his wife’s death as he did not have to support two households. The child had a dependency of 57.5% of the joint family purse. The father’s contribution continued following the fatal accident of his wife, she was entitled to be compensated for that part which originated from her mother and has ceased. To the extent that her father has made good the loss caused by the death of the mother, it was a benefit which had to be disregarded.
You must instruct specialist solicitors as dependency claims can be complex. The only criteria required are that the cause of death must result from the blame or fault of another person or party. The dependents of the deceased must prove their claim to obtain compensation. This is where specialist solicitors will collate all the evidence required to establish a case against the defendant. If the death was caused by a criminal act such as murder or manslaughter, then proof will be obtained by the defendant being convicted by the Crown Prosecution Services, who will set out the charges against the defendant. A claim for dependency can be made if the defendant is found guilty.
Start Your Dependency Claim Today
If you feel that you are eligible for a dependency claim, don’t wait around. Contact us today to find out how we can help you win your dependency compensation. We work on a No Win, No Fee basis, so you will only pay if your case wins in court.