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How Long Does a Fatal Accident Claim Take?

27th August 2019

Fatal Accident Claims are complex by nature, and as such can take time to settle. While your Personal Injury Solicitor will seek to achieve a settlement as quickly as possible, it's important that thorough and exhaustive investigations are carried out during the claim. This will ensure that a full and fair compensation settlement is achieved.

Consequently, particularly complex Fatal Accident Claims could take a couple of years or more to settle.

For free initial advice call our Fatal Accident Solicitors on 0330 606 9587 or contact us online and we will call you.

Does the Coroner's Inquest Delay the Fatal Accident Claim?

When someone dies in a fatal accident, the death will be reported to the coroner, whose role is to establish who has died and how, where and when they died. The role of the coroner is not to apportion blame for the accident – that's where a Fatal Accident Claim comes in.

In order to establish the facts of the death, the coroner will carry out investigations, make enquiries and they may also decide to carry out a post mortem. In the case of a fatal accident, the coroner will also hold an inquest into the death.

A coroner's inquest is a legal investigation involving a Court hearing. Situations in which the coroner will always hold an inquest into the death include those where:

  • The cause of death could be violent or unnatural
  • The death occurred while the person was in prison or police custody

As fatal accidents fall into the first category, an inquest will always be held into deaths caused by a fatal accident. This includes deaths that have happened because of a road traffic accident, an accident at work, medical negligence, public liability (e.g. trip, slip or fall) and accidents abroad.

The Fatal Accident Claim can begin even before the inquest hearing has been held and the coroner's work has concluded. At Co-op Legal Services our Coroner and Inquest Solicitors can provide you with support and representation throughout the coroner and inquest process as part of the Fatal Accident Claim. This means that, as well as supporting you through the inquest hearing, we will already hold much of the necessary information to start building your Fatal Accident Claim while the coroner's inquest is ongoing.

Fatal Accident Claims Process

A Fatal Accident Claim can be brought by the person dealing with the deceased's Estate or by certain individuals, including their spouse, parent or child or dependent. The purpose of a Fatal Accident Claim is to compensate the deceased's loved ones for their loss and suffering, and relieve the additional financial burden that this loss may have placed on them.

The first stage of the Fatal Accident Claim is for your Personal Injury Solicitor to collate all of the necessary evidence to support the claim. A lot of this evidence will already have been collated during the inquest process, and this is likely to include:

  • Witness statements
  • Photographs of the accident scene
  • Medical records
  • Accident book (if the accident happened at work or in a public place)
  • Police reports

A thorough review of this evidence will then be conducted and this will be used to form the basis of your Fatal Accident Claim.

Next, your Personal Injury Solicitor will liaise directly with the other side, on your behalf, and they will seek to obtain an admission of liability (fault) from them. If the other side admits liability, your Personal Injury Solicitor will negotiate a compensation settlement with them. If the other side denies liability then your Personal Injury Solicitor will begin litigation through the Courts.

If your claim does go down the route of Court action, then this can take longer to settle as a result. Your Solicitor will always seek to settle out of Court where possible.

Interim Payments

If liability has been admitted by the opponent, but a final settlement figure is yet to be agreed, it may be possible to secure interim payments. These are payments made while the claim is still ongoing and these can help to alleviate financial pressure and cover out of pocket expenses before the final settlement is paid.

Any interim payments that are made during the course of the claim will be deducted from the final settlement figure when this is paid.

Time Limit for Making a Fatal Accident Claim

In the UK, there's a strict deadline for making a Fatal Accident Claim, which is 3 years from the date of death. This is called the 'statutory limitation period' and if this deadline is missed, then it won't be possible (other than in exceptional circumstances) to make a Fatal Accident Claim.

For this reason, it's important to act quickly. If you believe that you have grounds to make a Fatal Accident Claim then contact our Personal Injury Solicitors for free initial advice and guidance on what to do next. We can carry out a free assessment of your claim and talk you through your options, with no obligation on you to instruct us.

At Co-op Legal Services, we can handle most Fatal Accident Claims on a no win no fee basis.

For free initial advice call our Fatal Accident Solicitors on 0330 606 9587 or contact us online and we will call you.

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We would like to express our sincere gratitude to you. We appreciated your tenacity and expert skills in bringing this longstanding case to a conclusion and negotiating a good settlement. We would have no hesitation in recommending you. B.M., Somerset

Very nice, helpful and clear. I knew from the outset that I would need to instruct a professional because I didn’t fully understand the inquest process. The Case Handler has been very prompt and professional. The service from her has been very good S.C., Bedfordshire

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