Who Can Claim Compensation under the Fatal Accidents Act?

06 June 2019

If someone dies as a result of another person's actions or negligence, their loved ones may be entitled to claim for compensation under the Fatal Accidents Act. Those who are entitled to make a claim include the deceased's spouse, civil partner, cohabiting partner, parents, children and siblings.

The Fatal Accidents Act Explained

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 is a law in England and Wales that comes into force when someone has died as a result of someone else's wrongdoing. This law entitles the deceased person's loved ones to make a Fatal Accident Claim for compensation.

Situations where the Fatal Accident Act might apply include:

Only certain individuals are entitled to make a claim under the Fatal Accidents Act. These are as follows:

  • The current or former husband, wife or civil partner of the deceased
  • The cohabiting partner of the deceased, providing they'd been living together for at least 2 years
  • A parent or grandparent of the deceased, or someone who they treated as a parent
  • A child or other descendant of the deceased (including step children)
  • A brother, sister, aunt or uncle of the deceased, or their children

Fatal Accident Compensation Claims Explained

The loss of a loved one in a fatal accident is a shocking and traumatic event for anyone to face, and many people will want answers as to what has happened and why. It can be difficult to know where to turn and what the next steps are.

A fatal accident claim can find answers to some of these questions, including from any Inquest, and hold those responsible to account. A compensation award can also help to ease the financial pressures on the loved ones of the person who has died. In the short term, this might be covering the cost of the funeral and in the long term, providing ongoing financial support for everyday living, for example, that were previously covered by the deceased's income or from the services they provided like DIY.

Taking the First Step

We know that taking that first step can feel daunting, but our Serious Injury and Fatal Accident Solicitors can provide free initial advice and talk you through the process, so that you know exactly what to expect. We can also carry out a free assessment of your claim, with no obligation on you to instruct us.

Liaising with the Coroner

It's likely that a death that has occurred as a result of a fatal accident will be reported to the coroner. This is not anything to be apprehensive about, and currently in the UK around 45% of all deaths are reported to the coroner, with around 14% of those going to an Inquest. There are a number of reasons why a death may be reported to the coroner, but the ones that relate directly to fatal accidents include:

  • The cause of death is unknown
  • The cause of death is violent or unnatural
  • The death occurred during an operation while the person was under general anaesthetic

The role of the coroner is not to apportion blame or determine whether any laws have been breached. The work of the coroner is entirely separate to any criminal investigations or Fatal Accident Claims that are brought.

The role of the coroner is to establish the facts of the death, including who died along with when, where and how they died. Once the coroner has established the facts of the death, you may be able to bring a Fatal Accident or Medical Negligence compensation claim based on their findings.

Our Fatal Accident and Inquest Solicitors can support you through the inquest process, liaising with the coroner on your behalf and where appropriate provide representation for you at the inquest hearing, if there is one.

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