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Dependency Claims for Fatal Accidents

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Fatal accidents are traumatic for anyone related to a victim. Where that victim has dependents, the period following a fatal accident can be particularly trying as the surviving spouse or children are left to cope with both the emotional pain and the financial fallout of their loss.
Although there is statutory compensation for families known as bereavement damages under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, pay-outs are fixed at £11,800 and dependents may be able to claim for much greater sums depending on the circumstances.

Defining Dependents in Dependency Claims
Dependents are not only the spouse or children of the deceased. Anyone can be classified as such if they can show that they were financially dependent upon the victim and have suffered a loss as a result of the death. This may include for example:
  • A wife or husband or former wife or husband.
  • Children.
  • Parents.
  • Siblings.
  • A civil partner or former civil partner.
  • A cohabitee who has been living with the victim for at least 2 years prior to the death.
Differentiating the Deceased’s Estate from Dependents
Although the beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate and the dependents may be the same individuals, these claims are effectively dealt with separately. The deceased’s estate can claim for any suffering of the victim before death, where a fatal injury may have occurred some time before death, and for funeral expenses.
Dependents can claim for compensation for losses related to their level of financial dependency. This can be complex and include provision for the deceased’s contribution to finances after their own costs, child care, gardening and other types of support.
Quantifying the Level of Dependence
Each individual case is different and will be judged upon its own merits. However, there are a number of elements that the courts will take into consideration when quantifying the level of dependence including:
  • The deceased’s total income.
  • The deceased personal expenses.
  • The amount spent on the spouse of the deceased.
  • The amount spent on the children of the deceased.
  • The amount spent jointly by the deceased and the spouse together.
The total estimate, known as the multiplicand, is then applied to a complex formula which uses a multiple of years of expected lifetime discounted to the present day to achieve a lump sum amount.
Understanding the court’s approach to quantifying the level of compensation that should be awarded is an important for achieving a successful outcome. Rollingsons has experienced solicitors who can help ensure that you get the award you are entitled to. Please contact Sarah Vincent by email or by telephone 020 7611 4848.