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Fatal accident compensation claims 

No amount of compensation can ever replace the death of a loved one. Statutory fixed damages are meant to represent compensation for the ‘value’ of a loved one and despite steps to make these claims more fair, the law still makes no award if death was ‘instantaneous’. Assessment of a fatal accident award can be very complicated which is why you should always instruct a specialist firm such as Shoosmiths.


It's entirely understandable if making a fatal accident claim is the last thing on your mind following the accidental death of a loved one. However, giving a compensation claim some thought may become a necessity if a child is left without a parent or you are left without your spouse or partner, especially if they were the main breadwinner in the family.

Our expertise in fatal accident claims

Our experts can help you make a fatal accident claim which we'll conduct with professional efficiency and a lot of sensitivity and sympathy. We can take some of the worries off your shoulders and help to make what must be a dark time a little more bearable.

There are restrictions on who can claim compensation in the cases of accidental death. You may be able to get a £2,000 Bereavement Payment from the government if your husband, wife or civil partner has died as a one-off, tax-free, lump-sum.

Our expert advice and assistance isn't just limited to compensation awards and purely financial matters. We can provide guidance to help you get through the various legal stages following a fatal accident as well as information and representation at inquest (if there is one).

A successful claim will require us to show that the fatal accident occurred as a result of a third party's negligence. Our team of specialists will guide you through the process and procedures and give you all the support you need at such an emotionally challenging time.

Tell me more about

The law concerning who can make a fatal accident claim is governed by two Acts of Parliament:

  • Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934

  • Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (as amended)

Legislation distinguishes between what can be claimed on behalf of the estate, by members of the family (bereavement award) and by the dependants of the deceased.

Under the 1934 Act the estate (i.e.: executors or those entitled under intestacy rules) can claim for funeral expenses, the value of any property damaged/lost as a result of the accident, damages for any pain or suffering and losses incurred between the date of the accident and the date of death.

The spouse of the deceased or the parents of a child who died when under the age of 18 years are entitled to claim bereavement damages. You will be able to claim a statutory bereavement award, which is currently £15,120, if the death occurred after 1 May 2020. If the death was before 1 May 2020 the bereavement award is £12,980. Only these persons can claim a bereavement award under the 1976 Act. No one else in the family is entitled to do so.

In addition to claiming bereavement damages, a person who was financially dependent on the deceased (which can encompass those not entitled to claim bereavement damages) may be entitled to recover damages for the loss of that dependency by making a claim for a dependency award.

The legal definition of a ‘dependant’ in these circumstances is precise, but is fairly broad ranging – from spouses and civil partners to grandparents, brothers or sisters, aunts or uncles, children and those treated by the deceased as a child of the family.

To bring a claim, dependants must prove they were actually financially dependent upon the deceased at the time of death, or relied on the deceased's services which had a financial value, or had a reasonable expectation of financial benefit whether directly from earnings or from services from the deceased in the future.

Our Experts

  • Paul Ashust

    Paul Ashurst

    Principal Associate

    Personal injury

    I deal with civil litigation for individuals whose claims involve complex liability issues as well as leading a team of lawyers within our serious injuries unit who deal with high value personal injury litigation.

    View full profile
  • Rose Donoghue, serious injury lawyer

    Rose Donoghue


    Personal injury

    I am a Consultant at Shoosmiths, I have been a personal injury lawyer for over 26 years and I act for individuals who have sustained injuries that have had a significant impact on their quality of life and a lasting impact on their family.

    View full profile

Fatal Accident Claims

If you have lost a loved one due to a fatal accident or injury, contact our specialist fatal accident solicitors today. We'll explain what can be done and be there to support you through the years ahead.

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