Why are some fatal accidents worth millions and others worth nothing?
When you’ve lost a loved one in a fatal accident, it can be difficult to understand why compensation for some relatives is large and for others non-existent when they’ve both suffered the same emotional trauma.
There are two types of fatal accident compensation claims:
1. Estate’s Claim
This compensation is for the deceased person and is paid to their estate. This usually relates to their pain, loss and suffering before death.
Despite the accident ending in that person’s death, this type of compensation is surprisingly low – often no more than £1,000 or £2,000.
This is because the law determines if the deceased person died instantly or lost consciousness immediately, their pain, loss and suffering is not as great as somebody who has to live with their injuries.
The main loss in those cases is seen for the people left behind rather than the deceased themselves.
Funeral costs can also be paid to the estate.
2. Claim by the Dependents of the Deceased
The far more common type of compensation is direct damage to the dependents left behind. This is where the awards vary significantly.
Fixed bereavement damage compensates a dependent for the loss of their loved one. The Government currently has this fixed at £12,980.
This is the award for losing the deceased and is a fixed figure – it doesn’t change according to how hard the bereavement has affected you personally.
The amount and the fact that it’s only awarded to spouses/civil partners or parents but only if their deceased child was under 18, causes a lot of controversy.
Also, this is not awarded per person. If both parents lose a child under 18, the award is split between them.
There are also issues if the parents were never married and step parents don’t receive this award unless they’ve formally adopted the child.
The main damage for a dependent is for financial loss, and this will differ according to what the deceased earned.
If the deceased is a child, they are unlikely to have anybody financially dependent on them so this award is negligible.
However, if the deceased was earning, had a partner and children dependent on the earnings and was likely to earn for a considerable period of time, this award can be extremely high.
Essentially, the higher the earnings, the greater the award to the dependents.
Rules about who are dependents can be strict.
While partners are seen as dependents, albeit it with their own earnings taken into account, children who lose a parent aren’t usually seen as a dependent beyond finishing higher education. This is even where the death of a parent has affected a child’s future career and life plan.
The younger the child, the greater the financial dependency claim for the loss of the parent. However, parents aren’t generally seen as financially dependent upon their children so very little award can be made for the loss of a child.
These awards are difficult because they don’t reflect what the deceased person meant to an individual, and focus on financial rather than emotional dependency.
There are also awards for loss of affection, but these rarely get above £5,000 and again tend to vary with the age of a dependent child or length of the relationship.
Need advice? We can help you
Please call Nathalie Stewart on 01482 324252 for a no-obligation chat.
We’ll deal with your case sensitively. We’ll help with the inquest, visit you at your home or an appropriate location and support you through this difficult time. And we work on a no win no fee basis with a 0% success fee.
You can find out more about how we can help you here.Return to the insights archive »
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