Claims arising from the death of a loved one can be the most difficult claims for us to deal with. The law is unsatisfactory in relation to these claims, because no amount of money can compensate you for such a loss.
It is important to be aware of the limitations of the compensation claimable under civil law, which is the area of law that we will deal with for you. It will not, in most circumstances, include any element of punishment for the defendant, which is dealt with by the criminal law. In most cases for civil compensation the defendant will carry insurance and will not even suffer financially.
In many cases, claimants feel that they want the guilty party punished for their actions, and are disappointed when their civil claim does not have this effect, particularly if no action has been taken under criminal law.
It is important to be aware of this limitation from the outset, as it can often add to the grief and distress suffered if a claimant is bringing a claim with false hope in this regard.
There are also limitations to what can be claimed for arising from a death, and the people who can make a claim. There are essentially three types of claim that can be made:
A claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate for losses suffered. This will include such things as funeral expenses (if paid for by the estate), damage to any property (such as a bike or car that was damaged in the incident) etc.
Bereavement compensation. This is compensation set by statute and is a fixed sum. The sum has been increased on two occasions, although is commonly still believed to be too low by many people.
The relevant figures depend upon when the death occurred:
a) deaths before 1.4.91 - £3,500
b) deaths on or after 1.4.91 but before 1.4.02 - £7,500
c) deaths on or after 1.4.02 - £10,000
d) deaths on or after 1.1.08 - £11,800
Unfortunately, the statute also limits those who can claim these sums to a wife or husband of the deceased, or the parents if the deceased was a child under 18.
- Dependency: where the deceased has left people who were financially dependent upon him/her, e.g upon the deceased’s income from work or a pension.
This is only a brief summary of the things that can be claimed, and it is important that your claim is discussed in depth to ensure that all of the relevant factors have been taken into account.