If you wish to discuss a fatal accident claim, we offer a free consultation and the appointment can take place at either our offices or your home, appointments can be arranged out of hours, on weekends anytime that is convenient for you and your family.
Can I claim compensation if my partner has been killed in a fatal accident?
You can claim compensation if your spouse, civil partner or child has a fatal accident. If you were not married, but were living together for more than 2 years, you will be treated as a married partner and can claim.
As well as compensation for the pain and suffering, you can claim for any losses that you have suffered. For example, you might claim for the loss of your partner’s future income and help around the house, and also for funeral costs.
In additional you may be entitled to a bereavement award
What is a bereavement award?
In England and Wales, a Statutory Bereavement Award is a fixed amount of compensation (currently £15,120) which the Ministry of Justice gives to certain relatives of a person who has died because of someone else’s mistakes. It could provide your family with financial support and acts as way of recognising that their death was wrongful.
The bereavement award can only be claimed by the following relatives of someone who has died:
- Husband or wife
- Civil partner
- Parent (if their child was under 18)
You can claim the bereavement award in addition to any other compensation claim you might be making, and it could help cover:
- Funeral expenses
- The return home of your loved one’s body if they were abroad when they died
- Loss of earnings
Ardent Law believe that a major reform of the bereavement award system (part of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976) is long overdue, we support organisations like the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) in their campaign to make the law fairer.
What is an inquest?
An inquest is a formal investigation conducted by a coroner in order to determine how someone died. Inquests are held only in certain circumstances, such as where a death was sudden and the cause is unknown, where someone has died an unnatural or violent death, or where someone has died in a place or circumstance where there is legal requirement to hold an inquest, for example in prison custody or whilst sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
The purpose of an inquest is limited to establishing four key things: the identity of the deceased as well as where, when and how they died.
What happens during an inquest?
- The Post Mortem
The coroner will usually arrange a post mortem, sometimes known as an ‘autopsy’, following the examination, a report is prepared by a pathologist who will detail their findings as to the cause of death.
- Pre-inquest Review Hearings
There may be a pre-inquest review (PIR) hearing in advance of the final inquest hearing. This is a hearing before the coroner where arrangements are made to prepare for the inquest hearing itself. No actual evidence is heard at a PIR it focuses on the steps that need to be taken in preparation for an inquest, for example, disclosure of documents, witness statements, deciding which witnesses need to be called to give evidence, and agreeing the date of the inquest hearing. Some inquests there are several PIR hearings before the inquest itself takes place in order to ensure everything is in place for the final hearing.
- The Inquest Hearing
During the inquest hearing the coroner will call witnesses to give evidence. The coroner and anyone else deemed to have a proper interest in the proceedings (known as an ‘interested person’), will then have the opportunity to ask questions of the witness. If the inquest is being heard with a jury, then the jurors will also be allowed an opportunity to ask further questions of each witness.Sometimes a witnesses will not need to attend but, instead, their statement will be read out in the hearing so that it still forms part of the evidence. This often happens where their evidence is not controversial but where it is still deemed relevant to the coroner’s investigation.Once all of the evidence has been heard, the coroner will provide a summary. The coroner will give his/her conclusion (previously known as the ‘verdict’) and will also complete the Record of Inquest form to note the findings that were reached.If there is a jury then it is the jury who will determine the conclusion at the end of the inquest. The coroner will give the jury guidance as to which conclusions they may reach (based on the evidence that has been heard) and will explain their obligations as a jury, before asking them to retire and consider their conclusion.Following an inquest the Coroner can make recommendations to prevent future deaths from occurring.