Fatal Work Accident Statistics & The Law

21 June 2016

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported the 2014/2015 fatal injury statistics in July last year which showed that 142 people died whilst at work.

This figure is a slight increase from the previous year, but it’s 9% lower than the average over the last 5 years. The last twenty years has seen an increasing downward trend of fatal accidents at work but the trend is not so clear over the last 8 years.

The HSE statistics include deaths from work accidents (not on the rail network) and also work-related disease deaths. This includes Mesothelioma, a cancer that is directly linked only to exposure to asbestos and other work related cancers and lung diseases caused by exposure to chemicals and dust at work.

The figures exclude a number of areas such as worker deaths in road accidents and workers who die in air or sea accidents and all armed forces deaths.

But what can you actually do if a loved one or member of your family died because of an accident at work? Obviously no amount of money can compensate you for the devastating loss you and your family are feeling and making a claim for compensation is not the first thing you’ll be thinking of. But the compensation you can claim can help you and your family afterwards in a practical way, particularly if you’ve lost your family’s main breadwinner.

Fatal Accident Meaning / Definition - What the Law Says

In English Law (which applies in England & Wales), the Fatal Accident Act 1976 legislation covers any accident where someone else was responsible for the death of someone else and therefore covers fatal accidents at work. This legislation outlines exactly who can make a claim under this law and what they are entitled to claim for.

The law says there are certain people or groups who can claim under the Fatal Accidents Act. These are:

  • Dependants of the person who died (spouse, children or anyone else who was dependent)
  • Close relatives
  • The Estate of the person who died

There is a limited amount of time to make a fatal accident claim. You have three years from the date your loved one died to make a claim, but you should think about contacting a specialist Personal Injury Solicitor as soon as you can. This will be very painful and difficult for you, but the sooner your Solicitor can make a start on your claim, the better.

Gathering the details and evidence about the accident does take time but in some cases an Interim Payment of fatal accident compensation may be paid before the case is settled. This could really help particularly if you are struggling financially because of your loss.

You can make a compensation claim under the Fatal Accident Act even if no criminal proceedings are taken against your loved ones employer.

What Compensation Can Be Claimed for a Fatal Accident?

There are a number of different sections you can claim compensation for under the Fatal Accident Act, these are:

  1. Dependency Claim – This will consider the dependants of the person that died and will include their spouse or civil partner and any children they have. The children may have a claim for the care they would have received from their parent, or parents could claim if they were being cared for by their child. You can claim as a dependant if you’ve been living together for at least two years. Any dependency claim is based on their job, income, chances of promotion and future earnings potential, pension and many other things such as DIY, care and childcare too. Complex calculations using average life expectancy and other factors are used to decide how much is paid.
  2. Bereavement Payment – There is a compensation payment paid to close family members for their pain and suffering of losing a loved one. This is a fixed amount of money set by the UK Government and is currently set at £12,980. The only people who can claim compensation for bereavement are the husband, wife or civil partner of the person who died or the parents of a minor (person under the age of 18), which will be divided between them both.
  3. Funeral Expenses - There will also be a compensation payment to cover the funeral costs. This may not be the full amount spent on the funeral, but will be what was reasonable.
  4. Shock of Someone Dying – This compensation can be paid to people who witnessed the accident or immediate aftermath of the accident. However, there are strict criteria to meet, and although you’ve suffered significant shock and distress, you may not be able to claim.
  5. Suffering of the Person who Died – If your loved one suffered and was in pain before they died, you could claim. The amount of compensation paid will depend on how long their suffering continued for and the levels of pain.

Compensation Settlement

Most compensation claims for a fatal work accident will be settled by negotiations between you and your Solicitor, and the insurance company. Your Solicitor will work with you to get to a compensation figure that is acceptable. But if an out of Court settlement with the insurance company cannot be reached, the case may have to go to Court.

Court Case

A Judge will decide how much compensation should be awarded. Going to Court is a long and difficult process so it is very important to get expert legal advice to help you decide, whether you want to follow this route.

If you have suffered a terrible loss and you have any questions or concerns about making a claim we can help you.

No Win No Fee Claim

Most fatal work accident claims in the UK can be completed on a No Win No Fee Agreement. With a No Win No Fee Agreement from Co-op Legal Services all your legal fees are covered, won or lose*.

As part of the Co-op Group our values of openness, honesty, social responsibility and caring for others are core to the service we provide.

* Subject to entering into and complying with the terms of a No Win No Fee Agreement and taking out and complying with the terms of an After The Event insurance policy (when appropriate).

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