Who is a Dependent under Fatal Accident Act 1976?
Following a fatal accident claim there can be many claims that can be made by the Deceased’s family or near relatives to include former husband or wife and partners. A dependency claim provides an independent of any claim the deceased may have made. It is made by near or close relatives of the deceased who have been deprived of his or her support and services. It is a claim for compensation not for the deceased but for their family after death.
As one judge put it:
“It is not a claim which the deceased could have pursued in his own lifetime 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 from their injuries, they would have been able to recover compensation in his or her own right. If the claim would have inevitably failed due to limitation problems, then no claim can be found.
Any damages awarded are subject to reduction for contributory negligence. If the death of the deceased 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.
Who can be a dependent of the Deceased?
The Fatal Accident Act 1976 provides a list of possible Dependents who can make a claim for compensation. 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.
- An 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 in the action as persons on whose behalf it is brought.
What Can Be Claimed for A Dependency?
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.m
Examples of Financial Dependency.
A dependents of the Deceased under the Fatal Accident Act 1976, be 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, prior to death actually made any financial payments to them, all they need to show that it was 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, then is will be easier to prove by your solicitor.
A financial dependency claim can where the Dependants could show, as a result of death they are financially worse off or disadvantaged. The most common situation is a where the surviving partner has lost the income of the Deceased. However children of the Deceased may also be financially Dependents as they can show that the Deceased would have paid to 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 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 are as follows:
- Help with household chores,
- DIY and maintenance of the main home or a dependents 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).
What is the Duration of a Dependency Claim?
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 claim dependency for example, where there is reliance upon the Deceased income from work, the financial dependency 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 10 years providing that the Dependents would have survived 10 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.
How Much Can A Dependent Claim Following a Fatal Accident Act 1976 Claim?
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 20’s to 40’s 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 in addition to 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 to include sisters, brothers, parents, former partners of the Deceased. Therefore especially with Asian families, where parents are often dependent upon their children, especially first born male child, 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. The bereavement award has increased from £3,500 to £7,500 after 1 April 1991 and from 1 April 2002 £10,000. Interest can also be claimed in respect of 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 resultant figure is then subject to the element of reasonable future probability which is reflected in the multiplier in stage 2.
Example of a Dependency Claim
In a 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 as a result of 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.
How Can I Make A Dependency Claim?
You must instruct specialist fatal accident claim solicitors as they can be complex. The only criteria that is required is that the cause of death must be as a result of blame or fault from another person or party, the ‘Defendant.’ The Dependents of the Deceased must prove their claim to obtain compensation. This is where specialist solicitors will collate all the evidence required to prove 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, please read further on this by clicking here: Criminal Injuries Compensation for Murder / Manslaughter
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.