Dependency Claim

What Is a Dependency Claim?

A dependency claim provides an independent cause of action for near relatives of the deceased who have been deprived of his or her support and services. It is a claim for damages not for the deceased themselves, 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 [1978] QB 543.

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Bereavement Award

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 Three-Stage Test of a Fatal Accident Award

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:

  1. Establish the earning of the deceased, less living expenses – this gives the court’s the annual dependence or what is called the ‘multiplicand’
  2. The multiplicand is then multiplied by the number of years purchase, the ‘multiplier’
  3. 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

The court, when considering the dependency claim, agreed that the child was dependent on the mother’s income and awarded £5,074pa with a multiplier of 7, 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.

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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.

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