Justice following the death of a relative

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The death of a loved one, either suddenly in an accident, following an illness, or due to clinical negligence, is, of course, a tragedy which has a devastating impact on the family. When someone has died in this way, we are often asked by families about the scope for a compensation claim.

It is perfectly understandable and natural that things like compensation claims are not foremost in the minds of families at such times. As experts in fatal accident compensation claims, our compassionate solicitors always show empathy and understanding of the turmoil families are going through. We would never pressure relatives to begin a claim earlier than they want to. But there are good reasons to consult a solicitor early.

Is there anything else you should be doing?

It depends on the circumstances of the claim. But, in general, there are certain aspects on which it is important to check there is enough information and evidence, for example:

  • The facts surrounding an accident. It may be that the facts are straightforward. Or it may be that they are set out in a report of a thorough investigation (perhaps by the Police or Health & Safety Executive). But if there is any uncertainty over the facts surrounding an accident, that is something that is useful for us to know early, so we can take steps to obtain the necessary evidence.
  • Clarity that the cause of death is clear from available records. In most cases the cause of death, and its relationship with the accident, will be perfectly clear. But just occasionally there are cases where it is less clear. If there is any doubt, it is something it is helpful to know at the outset.
  • It is important to know whether the person who died left a will and, if possible, to be sent a copy of the will. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the executor (who is named in a will) may have an important role to play

Why speak to a solicitor early?

There is no rush to begin a fatal injury claim formally, but speaking to a solicitor is useful to see if any steps can be taken sooner rather than later to help a claim, even if the claim itself is not begun until later. That will include whether particular evidence needs to be obtained before it is too late to do so.

Is there a time limit?

Yes, but the time limit is three years. Within that three-year time limit, a claim either must be settled or a court action be started in pursuit of the claim. For accident claims, the time limit will run from the date of the date of the accident or the date of death (if different).

That is why we reassure grieving families that there is no rush. For claims involving illness or disease, the rules sometimes operate differently, particularly if the illness is long-term. In those cases, it can be complicated, but the date of diagnosis may be the start of the time limit.

What can you claim for?

Cases vary but, in general, the categories of compensation which can be claimed by relatives of a person who has died include:

  • A sum to reflect the emotional impact of the death, which can be a very substantial amount.
  • Funeral expenses.
  • Loss of financial support by any relative (most commonly the spouse) who was financially dependent on the person who died.

Also, an executor can claim compensation for any pain suffered prior to the person passing away.

Which relatives can claim?

Any relative who was financially supported by the person who has died can claim for the loss of financial support. Separately, the following relatives can claim for the emotional impact of the loss:

  • Spouse
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren.

If you would like to have a free, no-obligation discussion with us, please get in touch. We will be happy to answer any questions you have and guide you on your next steps, if you decide to pursue a claim.

Email Stephen Irvine
Call our personal injury claims team free on 0808 560 0872
Arrange a callback by using our enquiry form

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