The loss of a family member can have serious financial implications resulting in sudden and unexpected hardship. Specialist fatal accident solicitors can help you to claim the compensation that is your legal right. A Fatal accident claim can be a complex matter and the value of dependency damages can be substantial. Fatal accident solicitors have detailed knowledge however they do call upon the services of forensic accountants who have specialist knowledge in identifying the contentious issues to prepare reasoned reports to assist in the financial aspects of a fatal injury case.
Compensation that can be claimed by fatal accident solicitors as a result of death is divided into two distinct parts. The first part relates to compensation for the losses of the deceased. The second part is the compensation for any dependents whose lifestyle has been affected by the loss of a breadwinner.
The victim’s part includes compensation for pain, suffering and distress however if the victim died quickly or did not regain consciousness no compensation will be awarded for pain and suffering. The victim’s financial losses between the date of injury and the date of death, together with the funeral expenses can also be claimed.
The dependents part consists of compensation for the loss of the victim’s financial support since death and in addition to the dependency compensation, a statutory sum for bereavement is payable to the spouse of the deceased or to the parents of a deceased minor.
When someone dies it is necessary to attempt to establish the precise cause of death. In most cases, a formal inquest into the death is unnecessary because the cause of death is clear. When the cause of death is obvious, the attending physician authorises a death certificate without further investigation. All fatal accident cases however require a coroner’s inquest which is a public hearing, carried out in a court of law and overseen by a coroner whose medical and/or legal expertise qualifies them to render a judgment, with or without a jury with regard to the manner of death. The inquests purpose is to identify the deceased, confirm the time and place of death and establish a reason for death. The verdict does not apportion blame for a fatal accident. The verdicts available to the coroner are limited but include accidental death, misadventure, suicide, open verdict, natural causes and unlawful killing. An inquest is required by law in the following circumstances:-
murder, manslaughter or infanticide
death in prison
accident, poisoning or disease
road traffic accident
continuing danger to the health or safety of the public
If a coroner’s inquest is required, then a post-mortem examination of the deceased’s body will usually first be conducted by a pathologist. During this examination, the pathologist will determine the cause of death. Note that by law the relatives of the deceased cannot prevent either the post-mortem exam or the coroner’s inquest.
The family or any other interested party, at the discretion of the coroner, can choose to be represented at a fatal accident inquest by a solicitor. The family also has the option of representing themselves however because of the significant impact that the judgment of the coroners court may have on the financial affairs of the deceased’s family it is advisable to seek advice and representation from experienced fatal accident solicitors:
e.g. the final determination of the cause of death may effectively determine whether or not the deceased’s family will receive financial compensation. As an example, if the coroner or the jury determines that the deceased committed suicide, then the proceeds of the deceased’s life insurance policy will not be paid to the beneficiaries. Working with a skilled solicitor is particularly important in cases where the family is seeking compensation on the grounds that 3rd party negligence caused the death.