Fatal Road Accidents

In the aftermath of a fatal road accident, families sadly have to deal with the emotional devastation and the complex process of seeking compensation. This fatal car accident guide provides insight into the intricate landscape of fatal road accident compensation in England and Wales, touching on eligibility, compensation types, legal initiation, and the role of No Win, No Fee, No Worry service that we provide.

Understanding the legal framework is vital for bereaved families seeking compensation after a tragic loss. The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 serves as a guide, empowering close relatives and dependents to pursue financial redress.

Deciphering eligibility criteria is the first step, involving spouses, civil partners, children, parents, and financially dependent individuals. Dependency and demonstrating the profound impact of the loss become pivotal elements in building a compelling case.

What Family Members Can Claim Road Accident Compensation?

These are mainly governed by the law laid down under The Fatal Accident Act 1976 that provides a list of all possible dependents who can claim compensation.  The 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.

The list of possible dependents are below:

  • 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

What Compensation Can Be Claimed After A Death In A Road Accident?

Compensation takes various forms usually comprising the following heads of loss:

  • Bereavement award
  • Compensation for the death (pain and suffering)
  • Dependency claims (i) financial losses, and (ii) provision of services
  • Funeral expenses.

Initiating the legal process requires prompt reporting to authorities generally the Coroner and the Police and seeking guidance from experienced solicitors to navigate the intricate legal landscape.

How Fatal Accidents Solicitors Help Bereaved Families

Building a robust case involves comprehensive medical reports, evidence of financial contributions, and witness statements offering diverse perspectives on the circumstances.

Taking each in turn:

Medical Reports on the Deceased.

This is often necessary to provide the court evidence of the health of the deceased before death.  The reason why this is important is because the dependency claims are calculated before and after the death.  If there is a loss of earnings claim, that loss will continue beyond death.   We will need to establish how long into the future that loss of income will continue.  This will apply to all future dependency losses.

If the deceased was in good health, it will be more probable than not that the deceased would have continued to work until at least the ‘normal’ retirement age currently aged 67 years.  So if the deceased was 30 years of age at the time of death, the loss of earnings compensation would be for a period of 37 years.  However, say, if the deceased had a pre-death illness that was life-limiting, then the future calculation will limited to the remaining years.  Thus if the deceased suffered from cancer prior to death and was provided with 3 years left to live, the future losses will be limited to 3 years.

Just by this simple example, it is important at times that a medical report is obtained on behalf of the deceased.  The expert instructed will be a ‘life expectancy expert’ and the expert will simply require the deceased’s GP and Hospital records to review.  The expert will also require from the Coroner the post-mortem and toxicology reports to provide a comprehensive and robust opinion that will stand up in court.

What evidence is needed to prove a fatal car accident claim?

Documentation plays a crucial role in supporting dependency claims following the death in a road accident necessitating the collection of evidence regarding the deceased’s financial contributions. This encompasses a range of documents, including income statements, tax returns, and other pertinent financial records, often starting with a thorough examination of the deceased’s bank statements. These records serve as the foundation for determining financial contributions towards dependents and covering expenses borne by the deceased.

In order to paint a comprehensive picture of the total income and expenses of all involved parties, it is customary to request bank statements from other dependents when necessary. For employed individuals, essential documents would include employment records, while the self-employed would need to provide profit and loss accounts and tax returns. In cases where the deceased enlisted the services of an accountant, reaching out to them for supportive information and documentation becomes a crucial step.

Beyond financial records, a range of additional documents is required, though this list is not exhaustive. It encompasses essentials such as the death certificate, marriage certificates, and birth certificates for both the deceased and all dependents. Educational and qualification certificates, DSS records, and HMRC records also contribute to building a comprehensive case. The meticulous gathering of these documents is fundamental in establishing the groundwork for a robust dependency claim.

How To Make A Fatal Car Accident Claim

By instructing us as specialist fatal accident claim solicitors, after firstly taking full and comprehensive instructions from the family and dependents of the deceased, we will secondly liaise with the Police and Coroner to establish the factual circumstances of the fatal road accident collision.  Establishing blame is paramount as if no fault can be established against the other party, then no claim for compensation can be claimed.

How is a fatal car accident claim started?

The following is a comprehensive starter guide on how solicitors specialising in this area of the law commences a claim against the defendant driver or rider of a vehicle in England and Wales that is at fault for the death of a road user or pedestrian on the roads or pavement.

(i) Letter of Claim to The Defendant

Once we have the initial instructions we will continue with the establishment of obtaining the identity of the defendant and address.  Under data protection laws it may not be possible to obtain the address of the party at fault but generally this will not be an issue due to the fact that the insurance company for the defendant will ‘stand in the shoes’ of the defendant and compensate bereaved victims through the motor insurance cover for the vehicle in question.

The bereaved family will not usually have details of the information of the defendant to notify that person of the fatal car accident claim. As solicitors however the Police will usually provide this information or as a bare minimum the details of the defendant’s motor insurers.  Once this information is obtained then a Personal Injury Complaint Letter of Claim will be made under the Civil Procedural Rules (CPR) which govern all personal injury claims including fatal car accidents in England and Wales.

(ii) Defendant Must Admit or Deny The Fatal Accident Claim

A letter or response by the defendant’s motor insurance company must be made under the CPR within 3 months of delivery of the letter of claim from the bereaved families fatal car accident solicitors.  That letter of response must:

6.3 The defendant (insurer) will have a maximum of three months from the date of acknowledgment of the Letter of Claim (or of the CNF or SCNF where the claim commenced in a portal) to investigate. No later than the end of that period, The defendant (insurer) should reply by no later than the end of that period, stating if liability is admitted by admitting that the accident occurred, that the accident was caused by the defendant’s breach of duty, and the claimant suffered loss and there is no defence under the Limitation Act 1980.

6.4 Where the accident occurred outside England and Wales and/or where the defendant is outside the jurisdiction, the time periods of 21 days and three months should normally be extended up to 42 days and six months.

6.5 If a  defendant denies liability and/or causation, their version of events should be supplied. The defendant should also enclose with the response, documents in their possession which are material to the issues between the parties, and which would be likely to be ordered to be disclosed by the court, either on an application for pre-action disclosure, or on disclosure during proceedings. No charge will be made for providing copy documents under the Protocol.

6.6 An admission made by any party under this Protocol may well be binding on that party in the litigation. Further information about admissions made under this Protocol is to be found in Civil Procedure Rules (“CPR”) rule 14.1A.

6.7 Following receipt of the Letter of Response, if the claimant is aware that there may be a delay of six months or more before the claimant decides if, when and how to proceed, the claimant should keep the defendant generally informed.

(iii) What happens if the Defendant admits blame in a fatal car accident?

We shall collate all the evidence necessary to include all financial documentation, expert evidence and witness statements in support to begin the negotiations to settle the claim with the motor insurance company.  If during these negotiations there is an offer of fair and proportionate compensation then we shall recommend settlement without the need to issue court proceedings.  For a detailed account of what evidence is necessary see our Fatal Car Accident Compensation Guide.

(iv) What happens if the Defendant denies blame in a fatal car accident?

Generally speaking the Defendant’s motor insurance company will be guided by the Police concerning the stance they will take on liability or blame.  In an accident where somebody has sadly died the cause of death is usually down to a serious motor offence such as:

Both offences often involve a jail sentence to the defendant if charged and convicted. The reason why criminal charges by the Police are influential to the decisions taken by the motor insurance company is because the Police when charging the defendant believe they have enough evidence to convict the defendant ‘beyond reasonable doubt.’ The police will present the evidence  to the Crown Prosecution Service who will review the evidence to establish if there is enough to convict the defendant.

However in a claim for compensation is a civil claim for a fatal road accident claim is on a lower standard of proof, which is ‘on a balance of probabilities’ where the Judge will decide if the action proceeds to court if the evidence on balance, no maters how slight, will decide in favour of the bereaved family and dependents.  It is usually expressed in percentage terms that is a 51% chance or more of proving the fatal car accident case.  The higher the percentage the stronger the case.

Therefore in general, unless the defendant’s motor insurance company can find fault with the police evidence such as inaccuracies with the interpretation of the evidence or the fatal accident reconstruction report  the insurer will admit blame and proceed to negotiate with us and offer compensation.  If the police do not charge the defendant or if charged is acquitted at court the defendant’s motor insurer may deny blame and leave it to the bereaved families to take court action to prove the case.

(v) How are court proceedings commended in a fatal car accident claim?

If the defendant motor insurance company denies blame on their insured’s behalf if blame is admitted but the amount of compensation offered is insufficient court proceedings will become necessary.  It may also be necessary if there are time restrictions to issue court proceedings which is usually three years from the date of the accident or date of death whichever is the latter.

When solicitors commence court proceedings they must issue and service court proceedings usually upon the motor insurers nominated solicitors:

  • Claim Form,
  • Particulars of Claim
  • Schedule of Loss
  • Medical Expert Evidence (if appropriate)

The Rules on taking court action are governed by Part 7 CPR, on How to Start Proceedings.

(vi) When is a defence filled in a fatal car accident claim?

Once Part 7 Court proceedings have commenced the Defendant’s solicitors will usually file a defence. This is usually filed within 28 days from the date of service of proceedings of the fatal road accident claim.  The defence must be filed in accordance with CPR Part 15

The defence to the claim will set out the defendant’s position on liability.

(vii) How to take a fatal car accident claim to trial

There is a lot of work to do once a defence is filed.   The court initially will require a court hearing to establish what are the issues between the parties and then decide how best to case manage the action by ordering the parties to exchange evidence at certain future dates to encourage the parties to settle the action.  In 95% of all fatal road accident claims an out of court settlement is made.  It is rare for cases once proceedings are issued to go all the way to a full court hearing to decide on who wins and on how much compensation should be awareded.

Conclusions

In conclusion, while compensation cannot erase the pain of losing a loved one, understanding legal avenues is paramount. This article serves as a guide for bereaved families and dependence of the deceased navigating fatal road accident compensation in England and Wales.  Emphasis  on gathering evidence and building a compelling case are vital but at same time acknowledging the emotional toll and providing comprehensive support during this challenging time.

Statistics on fatal road accidents

Every road death is a tragedy and for the deceased’s family and friends a life changing event that will last their entire life time.  Government statistics  confirm that there were 440 road deaths between April and June; over 1,700 fatal road accidents.

In an updated report in September 2023, entitled, Reported road casualties Great Britain, annual report: 2022 the following is provided;

In 2022, 44% of fatalities were car occupants, 22% were pedestrians, 20% were motorcyclists and 5% were pedal cyclists. Of these 4 road user types, compared to 2019:

  • the biggest percentage change was for pedestrian fatalities, which showed a decline of 18%
  • pedal cyclist fatalities showed a decline of 9%
  • car occupant fatalities showed an increase of 7%
  • motorcyclist fatalities showed an increase of 4%

Compare this 2023 report with an earlier report 20 years earlier:

The following road deaths recorded following fatal road accidents statistics are relevant to 2003:

Use a Fatal Accident Specialist Solicitor
Use a Fatal Accident Specialist Solicitor

Help When You Need It Most

From a legal point of view, it is important to contact a specialist fatal road accident solicitor who will help you every step of the way.

#BrokenHeart
#BrokenHeart

Fatal Road Accidents Claims

For further reading on fatal road accident claims the following links are useful reading in this area:

Fatal accident – Death by dangerous driving

Bereavement award – criminal injuries compensation claims

Fatal road accident claims

Fatal car accidents

Fatal motor accident claims guide

Fatal road accident – uninsured driver, motor insurance bureau

Fatal motorbike accidents

Work Fatal Road Accidents Solicitors Will Carry Out On Your Behalf

We know its not just about the compensation, it is about the truth and getting to know what really happened and the final moments.  By instructing us, we will help you get to where you want to be by:

  • Liaising with the Police
  • Liaising with the Coroner
  • Contacting the Defendant(s) and insurer
  • Instructing experts – accident reconstruction, medical, barristers
  • Assist and attend inquest hearings
  • Assist and attend any criminal hearings against the Defendant
  • Prepare a full and financial fatal road accident assessment for Compensation
  • Advise you and your family with any legal issues arising from the fatal accident claim
  • Prepare and apply for probate
  • Claim for funeral expenses
  • Identify those family members who can claim compensation
  • Identify dependants
  • Claim a bereavement award if viable
  • Advise you with any financial issues arising out of the death
  • If liability is admitted, to obtain interim compensation payments to help your immediate needs for the fatal road accident.
  • Prepare the fatal road accident case for Court
  • Obtain the maximum compensation for all dependants.

No Win, No Fee, Solicitor

As specialist fatal road accident solicitors, we undertake all work under a No, Win, No Fee basis, so despite the complex legal and factual issues that can arise from an accidental death, you and your family will have no money worries by instructing us.

No Win No Fee No Worry Cycle Solicitors

Low or No Solicitor Success Fee if you Win

Due to a change in the law, fatal road traffic accident solicitors can take up to 25% of your compensation if you WIN, by way of a “Success Fee.”  So for every £100,000, you may have to pay up to £25,000 to your solicitor leaving you with £75,000.  That compensation award has to last you and your family a lifetime and to go to a personal injury solicitor could leave you seriously out of pocket.

Ask Your Solicitor: What will it cost if you win my Claim?

Our Success Fees Cap starts at 0%.  The majority of our success fees are only 12.5% plus vat however.  Simply by instructing us, can save you £Thousands in fatal road accident compensation, leaving you with the potential of obtaining 100% of the compensation.  We believe the compensation is much better in your pocket than ours despite what the Government believe.

Fatal Road Accidents In Your Area

The following statistics can be found on the BBC News Website from 1999 to 2010

  • Fatal car accidents in Liverpool – 204
  • Fatal road accidents in Manchester –  222
  • Fatal road accidents in Birmingham – 358
  • Fatal car accidents in Sheffield – 177
  • Fatal road accidents in Portsmouth – 53
  • Fatal road accidents in Preston – 55
  • Fatal car accidents in Sheffield – 177
  • Fatal road accidents in Harrowgate – 155
  • Fatal road accidents in Hertfordshire – 162
  • Fatal car accidents in Hillingdon- 100
  • Fatal road accidents in Hounslow – 106
  • Fatal road accidents in Isle of White – 60
  • Fatal car accidents in Kensington & Chelsea – 69
  • Fatal road accidents in Leeds – 408
  • Fatal road accidents in Knowsley – 48
  • Fatal road deaths in Middlesbrough – 53
  • Fatal road accidents in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne – 80
  • Fatal road accidents in Cornwall – 99

Death on Roads

 

Further reading: – Fatal Car Accident.

Fatal accidents claims guide

Fatal accidents claim

Fatal accidents compensation

Fatal Motorbike Claims

Fatal Work Accidents

Inquest & Coroners

Fatal accident

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