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Fatal injury compensation claims

When a loved one dies suddenly and unexpectedly as the result of a fatal accident, your life and the lives of family and friends can be turned upside down. As well as dealing with your emotional response, there will also be plenty of issues to contend with, particularly where there are formal investigations into the cause of death. The stress of dealing with financial and practical issues whilst grieving and coming to terms with your loss can seem overwhelming.

It might be that amongst the first things that you want are answers. How and why could this have happened? Many such incidents occur:

  • On the road, whether as a car driver, pedestrian, motorcyclist or cyclist.
  • At work, through use of machinery, falls or through misuse of chemicals.
  • In accidents involving horses.
  • Due to industrial illness and disease claims, including mesothelioma, lung cancer and other exposure to asbestos related conditions.
  • As a consequence of a criminal assault.
  • As a consequence of medical negligence.

There will often be police investigations and possibly a criminal prosecution of those responsible for the fatal injury, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigations, coroner’s investigations and an inquest. These processes can seem impersonal and unfamiliar, but our expert injury lawyers will support you, explaining the process and obtaining all the necessary evidence so you can have a full understanding of what happened to your loved one. For more information on these investigations, please see our guide to coroner’s and inquests.

Our serious injury and medical negligence specialist Solicitors are experienced and knowledgeable in successfully pursuing claims for those who have lost loved ones, as a result of the negligence of a third party.

Clarke Willmott’s serious injury team are ranked as band 1 by Chambers & Partners legal directory for Bristol and surrounds, and Somerset. Philip Edwards is ranked Band 1 for Birmingham and surrounds.

We act for the representatives of those involved in fatal injuries nationwide from our seven offices: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Manchester, Southampton and Taunton.


Who can claim following a fatal accident?

Claims can be brought by:

  • Husbands and wives (to include divorced spouses and annulled marriages)
  • Partners who had cohabited for at least 2 years at the time of the incident
  • Civil partner or formal civil partner of the deceased
  • Children
  • Siblings
  • Step children
  • Parents or those who were treated by the deceased as a parent
  • Grandparents

What can be included in a fatal injury compensation claim?

Of course, there can also be financial implications following a death. Whether that is simply funeral expenses or significant concerns about potentially lifelong financial dependency on the person who has died, these worries can be very difficult to deal with. The law about what compensation can be claimed in this situation is complex but our specialist injury solicitors have significant experience and will guide you through the process. What can be claimed often depends on the age of the person who has died, whether that person had any children, the type of family relationships and the level of financial dependency. Our lawyers will be able to advise you fully about your entitlement to compensation following a fatal injury or accident.

Wherever possible, your lawyer will seek early interim payments of compensation in the hope of alleviating financial pressure. They will also work closely with expert colleagues to help with probate and estate issues.

Our lawyers operate across the country and where possible can visit you at home, or see you at any of our offices, to discuss your claim. Our specialist solicitors are experienced in dealing with fatal injury claims and will approach your case with sensitivity and determination to provide support to you. They will help to guide you through the process and to bring their legal expertise to bear in seeking to obtain the compensation you are entitled to.

Possible type of fatal injury claims include:

  • Compensation for pain and suffering. This is applicable where the death is not an incident.
  • Medical fees, costs of care, loss of earnings and other reasonable expenses where the death is not instant.
  • Bereavement award (under the Fatal Accident Act 1976) for the spouse or parent of the deceased. This is currently £12,980.
  • Funeral expenses.
  • Dependency claim. This is a calculation to take into account the loss of income of the deceased, loss of pension provision, employment benefits to include bonuses and healthcare benefits and loss of contribution to family/household activities to include DIY, gardening and property maintenance etc.

Time limits

The usual rule is that Court proceedings must be started within 3 years from the date of the incident/accident. This is often referred to as the limitation period.

There are important exceptions to this three year time period:

  • If you lack mental capacity. Expert evidence is required to prove this. In this situation there is no time limit. It is important to add that with the passage of time cases can get harder to prove. It is important to instruct a specialist solicitor as soon as possible in all cases.
  • The three year limitation period starts to run once the child turns 18. Therefore you have until age 21, subject to the passage of time issue detailed in the bullet point above, to formally initiate a claim.
  • Criminal assaults and Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority claims. The time limit is usually two years subject to the stipulation that claims must be made as soon as possible for CICA claims.
  • Disease and medical negligence related claims. Three years from the date of knowledge of reason for the death. This applies when the reason of the death is not known until a later date.
  • Accidents abroad. These vary from country to country. Some time limits are very short.

Inquest representation

Where a person had died unexpectedly, either as a result of an accident or the cause of death is otherwise not clear, the matter should be referred to a Coroner.

We have a history of representing the families of the deceased at Inquests. Please see the following for more details of our expertise.

No win, no fee fatal accident claims

Funding your fatal injury claim.

We will advise you, at the outset, on all funding options so you can make an informed decision as to which you prefer.

We will enter into a Conditional Fee Agreement/no win, no fee agreement with you for most fatal injury claims.

In most successful claims our costs can be recovered from the insurer of the person/organisation liable for the fatal injury.

Case studies/details of previous claims

The exact cause of the collision was unknown; initial investigations centred on a firework display which may have resulted in a blanket of thick smoke drifting from the nearby Taunton Rugby Club where the display was held, which combined with the weather conditions, fog in particular, to contribute to poor visibility for drivers on the motorway.

In October 2012, the fireworks organiser was charged with seven counts of manslaughter, though those charges were dropped.  He later faced a charge under health and safety legislation, but the Judge found that there was no case to answer.

In April 2014, the West Somerset Coroner concluded that the accident was caused by dense fog, and that smoke from fireworks may have been a contributory factor, but was not the prime cause of the incident.

We represented the family at the lengthy Inquest and successfully secured compensation for them.

  • We acted for the family of a man killed in an accident on a motorway when a lorry collided with his stationary vehicle. The lorry driver was prosecuted and we supported the family through the criminal procedure. The lorry driver was charged with causing death by dangerous driving and was sentenced to a period of imprisonment. A claim for dependency is being made.
  • We acted for the family of an elderly person who was killed following a collision with a van at a traffic light controlled crossing. We represented the family at pre-inquest hearings, and offered support through the criminal process, which ultimately lead to a conviction for causing death by careless driving.
  • £20,000 in damages for negligence under the Human Rights  Act following the suicide of  an informal mental health patient. The NHS Trust admitted that the patient’s right to life had been breached when he posed a real and immediate risk of suicide
  • £100,000 to the family of a patient who died at home from a pulmonary embolism after he had called the ambulance service complaining of breathlessness. The Ambulance Trust negligently failed to take the patient to hospital by ambulance as an emergency.

Contact an injury solicitor

To discuss your fatal accident or injury compensation claim, call us now on 0800 316 8892 or contact us online.

What our clients say about us

Read about what our clients say about us.

Useful links to organisations that can provide support

Your key contacts

Lee Hart

Personal Injury Team Manager

Lee works closely with severely injured people and their families, leading them through the claims process and ensuring they get the best treatment, rehabilitation and care so that they can get their lives back on track as quickly as possible.
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apil Accredited Practice  apil Accredited Brain Injury Specialist  Headway corporate member 2020  SIA Corporate Partner Silver

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