Fatal Car Accidents Compensation

Compensation for Death in Car Accidents

Fatal road accident claimsWelcome to your comprehensive 2024 guide to claiming compensation for car accident deaths. Nobody can put a cost on the death of a loved one following a fatal car accident. The personal tragedy, pain and suffering is immeasurable. While the law treats the death of a loved one the same as other tragic accidents, fatal car accidents deserve a particular mention because of the number of fatalities on our roads (about 3,000 per year).

It is often the case that death in a car accident leaves bereaved families let down by the justice system. Only 60% of drivers are prosecuted, and the average prison sentence is four years.

Cause of Deaths In Road Accidents on UK Roads

Fatal road accidents usually are met by one of two charges to the offending driver.

Fatal car accident claims may also arise without any criminal conviction, as charging a driver with death by dangerous or careless driving requires a higher standard of proof by the police or Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). In a civil claim, as opposed to a criminal case, the standard of proof the solicitors need is on a balance of probabilities, such as proving the accused was 50% responsible.

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How Many Are Killed On UK Roads?

The shocking statistics show the number of fatal accidents on UK roads. The National statistics on Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain, annual report: 2022 provides:

  • 1,711 fatalities, a decline of 2% compared to 2019
  • 29,742 killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties, a decline of 3% compared to 2019
  • 135,480 casualties of all severities, a decline of 12% compared to 2019

Considering road collision rates per billion miles travelled, the final estimates show:

  • 328 billion vehicle miles travelled in 2022, a return to travel levels seen in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 5 road fatalities per billion vehicle miles travelled in 2022, up 2% compared to 2019

Who Can Claim for a Fatal Car Accident?

Not everyone connected to the deceased can claim compensation following a death in a fatal car accident. The law limits the type of people who can claim. The words ‘family‘ and ‘dependents‘ describe close family ties with the deceased, such as children, wives, husbands or partners as this group are often the most affected and usually dependent upon the deceased.

Determining eligibility for fatal road accident compensation requires a thorough understanding of the criteria set forth by the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.  Typically, eligible claimants include the spouse or civil partner, children, and parents of the deceased. In cases where the deceased was financially supporting other family members, they may also be eligible to make a claim. Proving dependency and demonstrating the impact of the loss on the claimants’ lives are critical in establishing eligibility.

Therefore, the person(s) who can claim on behalf of the deceased are those usually close family members who were in some way dependent upon the deceased before and at the time of death, which include:

  • Widow/widower,
  • Deceased’s children,
  • Parents of the deceased
  • Any person who was living with the deceased as husband or wife immediately before the accident and was doing so for at least two years before the accident

All under the Fatal Accident Act are classed as ‘dependents’ of the deceased, please click on thsi link for further information on ‘dependency claims following a fatal accident.’  Please note that a fatal car 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.

Claiming Compensation for Death in a Road Accident

The aftermath of a fatal road accident is a devastating experience, impacting families and loved ones in profound ways. In England and Wales, comprehending the intricate legal aspects and compensation procedures surrounding such incidents is essential for those dealing with the aftermath usually the husband or wife of the deceased or the children.

This extensive guide delves into the complexities of taking action against the defendant who caused the fatal road accident and claiming compensation, as a result.  This complete guide to claiming for a death in a road accident offers fundamental insights into the legal framework, eligibility criteria, types of compensation available, and the steps to navigate this challenging process.

Understanding Fatal Road Accident Compensation

Deaths that involved a road accident involve navigating the legal landscape to seek compensation for the loss of a loved one. In England and Wales, the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 serves as a cornerstone, outlining the criteria for eligibility and the types of compensation available to bereaved families. This legislation empowers dependents and close relatives to pursue compensation in the wake of a fatal road accident.

Determining eligibility for fatal road accident compensation requires a thorough understanding of the criteria set forth by the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. Typically, eligible claimants include the spouse or civil partner, children, and parents of the deceased. In cases where the deceased was financially supporting other family members, they may also be eligible to make a claim. Proving dependency and demonstrating the impact of the loss on the claimants’ lives are critical in establishing eligibility.

Compensation Arising From a Fatal Road Accident

1. Bereavement Damages: Bereavement damages constitute a fixed sum awarded to the spouse or civil partner of the deceased. As of 2023, the statutory bereavement award stands at £15,120.

2.  Dependency Claims: Dependents can seek compensation for the financial losses incurred due to the deceased’s death. This includes loss of income, future earnings, and other financial contributions the deceased would have made. However it is not just financial dependency that can be claimed, if any member of the family where dependent  upon the deceased for services performed around the home such as DIY, caring, child minding, household chores (amongst many other ‘non-financial’ services) a claim can also be made for the cost of replacing those services.  As a guide the minimum wage will be claimed for the amount of hours required to employ somebody to perform those services.

3. Funeral Expenses:  Reasonable funeral expenses can be claimed as part of the compensation process, helping alleviate the financial burden associated with laying a loved one to rest.  This can include the cost of cremation and also a headstone.  It is important to keep all of the receipts so that these can be reclaimed in full.

Making a Fatal Car Accident Claim

Instructing us as fatal car accident compensation solicitors will involve several factors that are explained below. Each case is different, however, and you must contact us so that we can provide a complete bespoke legal service to help you.

1. Contacting Authorities: The initial steps involve reporting the fatal road accident to the police and Coroner in respect of an Inquest Hearing. This prompt reporting establishes an official record of the incident, a crucial element for subsequent legal proceedings. The police will be involved in the investigation of the fatal road crash to establish who is at fault.  The Coroner will later be involved with establishing the facts of the case and how the death in a car accident occurred rather than establishing fault.

2. Engaging Legal Support: Seeking legal advice from solicitors is advisable. Legal professionals can provide guidance through the complexities of the legal process, ensuring all aspects of the claim are addressed with expertise.

3. Medical Reports: Thorough and comprehensive medical reports detailing the cause and extent of the fatal injuries are critical in establishing the grounds for compensation. However, this is usually obtained via the Coroner, where a post-mortem will be performed that will establish the exact cause of death as well as a toxicology report to advise if the deceased had any alcohol or drugs in the system before death.

2.  Documentation: To support dependency claims, collecting evidence of the deceased’s financial contributions is essential. This may include income statements, tax returns, and other relevant financial documents. Usually, the first port of call will be the deceased’s bank statements.

This will provide the basis of financial contributions towards the dependents and the expenses that are paid by the deceased.  Usually, we would also ask for bank statements of other dependents if necessary to provide a full picture of the total income and expense of all concerned.  If the deceased was employed we would require the employment records, if self-employed to obtain any profit and loss accounts, tax returns.  If the deceased hired an accountant we would wish to contact them for supportive information and documentation.

Other documents that are necessary include (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Death certificate
  • Marriage certificates
  • Birth certificates (of deceased and all dependents)
  • Educational/qualification certificates
  • DSS records
  • HMRC records

3. Witness Statements: Statements from witnesses to the accident can strengthen the case by providing additional perspectives on the circumstances surrounding the incident. Usually, however, the police would have the relevant statements from any witnesses.  But we would require detailed witness statements on behalf of all dependents to set out the nature of the dependency both financial and services dependency.  Once all the statements have been obtained and the documentary evidence collated we can then begin the stage of negotiations a compensation for the death in a car accident.

4. Negotiating with Insurers:  Once we have the evidence and statements we can begin  negotiating with the insurers involved in the fatal road accident.  If, however the insurers on behalf of the driver at fault deny that their insured is at fault then the next step would be to commence court proceedings (see below).  If blame is not in issue,  we will look to settle the compensation claim for the fatal road accident on the best possible terms. If this is not possible he case may proceed to court.  If the driver at fault does not have insurance, we can still make a claim via the Uninsured Motor Insurance Bureau.

5. Grant of Probate: a death in a road accident will usually require the ‘next of kin’ to obtain a grant of probate to pursue a claim on behalf of the deceased’ estate.  This is a legal document that entitled the estate of the deceased to bring an action, usually, however, it is limited to bringing a claim for the fatal injuries sustained.   The grant of probate is usually taken out by the widow/widower of the deceased or a parent of a child who has sadly died in a fatal car accident. If the deceased left a will, the person(s) who can take out the grant of probate will be identified in the will, if no will was taken out it will be left to the order specified under the rules of intestacy (usually the ‘next of kin.’), see Who Inherits When Somebody Dies. The dependency claim is made under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 that do not require a grant of probate.

6. Court Proceedings:  In cases where a fair settlement cannot be achieved through negotiation, court proceedings may be initiated. As fatal car accident solicitors we will present the case, providing evidence and compelling arguments to support the compensation claims. The court’s decision will be based on a thorough examination of the evidence presented.  However it must be remembered that court proceedings is just a paper-exercise at the beginning, it will take months to proceed through the court stystem and over 95% of cases will be settled without setting foot through the court doors.  Many bereaved families will need not have to worry about going to court in the circumstances.

7. Ongoing Emotional Support: Recognising the emotional toll of navigating the compensation process after a fatal road accident is crucial.  We have decades of experience dealing with fatal car accidents and helping bereaved families through such and emotional time. In addition to the legal aspects of the case we also provide ongoing emotional support to the bereaved families that is integral, working in tandem with support services to ensure a holistic approach to the well-being of the families.

8. No Win, No Fee, No Worry Service: Our no fee service if the case is lost provides a significant role in facilitating access to justice for those seeking fatal road accident compensation. Engaging with fatal accident legal professionals like us that offer these services can ensure that bereaved families facing financial constraints can still access quality legal representation without fear of expensive legal costs should the case fail.

9. Making a Fatal Car Accident Claim: While no amount of compensation can erase the pain of losing a loved one in a fatal road accident, a comprehensive understanding of the legal avenues available is indispensable for those left behind. This in-depth guide serves as a roadmap for bereaved and dependents of the deceased navigating the intricate landscape of fatal road accident compensation in England and Wales. Seeking legal guidance, building a robust case based on thorough evidence, and understanding the emotional toll of the process are key steps towards obtaining the payout for death in a car accident. The complexities of the legal process demand a compassionate and expert approach, ensuring that bereaved families receive the support they need during this challenging journey.

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When Multiple People Are Hurt

With fatal car accidents, the tragedy is often amplified by the fact that the same members of one family and/or close friends are often occupants in the same car. In several cases, multiple family members are killed. The effects are devastating and even more so if the driver of the same family was at fault.  We are here to support the family, helping them get to the truth and guiding them through the legal maze so they receive a sense of justice following their pain and hurt.

Fatal Car Accident Solicitors Video

Watch the video below to learn more about this area of law from our fatal car accident solicitors.

Pregnant Mum Tragically Killed by Speeding Driver

One recent example of a fatal car accident involves Frankie Jules-Hough, a 38-year-old mother who tragically died in May 2022. She was 17 weeks pregnant at the time and had pulled up on the hard shoulder of the M66 in Bury after suffering a punctured tyre. Before the accident, Adil Iqbal, 22, was driving his father’s BMW at speeds up to 123mph. He was filming himself while steering with one hand and ultimately lost control of the vehicle, hitting the mother’s car while travelling at 92mph.

Frankie was with her two sons and nephew at the time of the accident, and two of the children suffered severe injuries, which left them in a coma. The mother, who had previously played a role on soap opera Hollyoaks in the early 2000s, died from head injuries. Her unborn child also sadly died from the accident.

Mr Iqbal had previous experience of driving erratic and racing with other motorists. He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and received a 12-year jail sentence. The Attorney General, however, considered this sentence ‘unduly lenient’ and asked an appeals court to reconsider it. The judges quashed the initial sentence and increased it to 15 years, citing aggravating factors like his driving, such as ignoring the rules of the road, using his phone and carrying out dangerous manoeuvres. They agreed it was one of the worst examples of bad driving they’ve seen. This case is a tragic example of the devastating consequences that a fatal car accident can leave behind for all impacted.

Sympathetic Answers from Solicitors

At R James Hutcheon Solicitors, we understand that getting compensation for death in car accidents is often a secondary thought. However, making a claim helps maintain financial stability and relieves the financial worry and stress of losing a loved one.

Below is a list of the most common questions asked by bereaved families:

  • Who will pay the bills?
  • Who will look after the children?

Often a claim out of financial necessity and getting to the truth of what happened tends to be the dominant factors when family dependants instruct solicitors. It’s not just about compensation. Our specialist fatal accident team helps the family achieve a sense of justice by acting against the defendant to prove fault and legally representing the family at the inquest to help investigate the cause of death.

For family claims, passengers in a car will nearly always be entitled to compensation against the car’s driver, the other car’s driver, or both. This is because they are innocent victims, which sometimes means that they (or their estate) will have to claim against a family member who was at fault when driving the car they were travelling in. However, in reality, the driver’s insurance company will pay the compensation. If the driver has no insurance, please see below regarding “MIB” cases. In such tragic cases, a compensation claim must be considered, and expert solicitor representation should be sought.

MIB claims are there when car accidents involve uninsured or untraced drivers. A sizable number of fatal and non-fatal accidents result in a driver being uninsured or failing to stop at the accident scene. You should not give up hope in claiming compensation, as the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) was set up to compensate victims and their family members. Compensation will be payable in the usual way.

Clients Who Have Received Compensation for a Fatal Car Accident

We’re proud to have helped many clients who’ve lost a loved one following a fatal car accident.  We are dedicated to providing all support possible, from solicitor advice to emotional and financial assistance. We’ve helped family members and dependents receive thousands in fatal car accident compensation.

Here’s what some of our clients say about the service they’ve received from us:

In January 2020 my son was killed in a RTC. I contacted R. James Hutcheon Solicitors in Liverpool. In January 2022 the other driver was convicted at Crown Court in Sheffielf. This company then proceeded to seek compensation on my behalf.

They were successful in this claim which has just been completed Jan 2023. The service from this company has been first class from start to finish not just from Ronnie Hutcheon but from another staff member-Chantelle- who kept me informed on a regular basis of all developments. Everything completed by phone and e-mail.

I would certainly use this firm again for any issues that I have and you do not need to live in Liverpool.

A very positive ten out of ten.

– Robert McCormack

Help & Support Following Death In A Road Accident

Despite the hurdles families face when they lose a loved one following a death in a fatal car accident, we can do enormous work to help you. From assisting with the investigations about the cause of the fatal accident to dealing with the paperwork and payout for death in a car accident, we will be here for you every step of the way.

Our no-win, no-fee service means there will be at least one less worry on the family’s behalf by instructing us, the specialists in fatal car accident claims. Contact us today to learn your options for securing compensation for death in a car accident.

What Are the Top Safest Cars?

Car accidents can happen no matter what. Ultimately, the user causes an accident, not the vehicle itself. Therefore, you must be cautious and watch for dangerous or careless drivers. But that said, statistically speaking, some cars are far safer than others. Various factors can influence a vehicle’s safety, including safety features like seatbelts and airbags, an antilock braking system, electronic stability control, a collision avoidance system, the car’s crashworthiness, and much more.

The Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) is a European safety program that scores cars in four categories (Adult Occupant, Child Occupant, Vulnerable Road Users and Safety Assist), releasing regular reports of a car’s safety. Here are some of the safest cars in 2023:

  • Hyundai Ioniq 6
  • Land Road Defender
  • Tesla Model S & Y
  • Lexus RX
  • SEAT Leon
  • ORA Funky Cat
  • Toyota Yaris
  • Nissan Qashqai
  • Subaru Solterra
  • Lexus NX
  • Polestar 2
  • Genesis G80
  • Mercedes-Benz EQE

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