Losing someone you love is always difficult. Even more so if that person’s death could have been avoided if the standard of care had been acceptable. Whilst money will not make up for the bereavement, you are entitled to compensation for the death of a loved one, if it was due to somebody else’s negligence.
Who can claim compensation for the death of a loved one?
The law about making a claim on behalf of a deceased person can be found in the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1934. These Acts allow the following people to bring a claim for damages for the death of a loved one caused by substandard care or in other words clinical negligence:
- Executors named in the deceased person’s will. It may be that all Executors act together or just one brings a claim on behalf of the other
- An Administrator may be appointed to distribute the Estate where a will has not been left. Appointed Administrators are able to bring a claim on behalf of the deceased person’s estate. There are rules governing who can be appointed as Administrator, but usually this would be a spouse or civil partner, parent or child of the deceased.
- Those who were financially dependent on the deceased may be able to bring a claim. Usually, a claim would be made on their behalf by an Executor or Administrator.
In order to bring a claim, those named as Executors would need to obtain a Grant of Probate. Where there is no will, those wishing to be appointed as an Administrator would need to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Letters of Administration.
What compensation can be claim for the death of a loved one?
Under the Fatal Accidents Act, a statutory bereavement award may be claimed by certain categories of people. The current level of the award is £12,980 (as at March 2019). However, from 1st May 2020 this will rise to £15,120, but only for any actions arising on or after that date. Only the following people can claim this:
- Spouse or civil partner
- Parent of a child under 18
Unfortunately, this award is not available to cohabitating couples or children of the deceased. However, following the recent decision in Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospitals  this might change in the near future. The Court of Appeal ruled in this case that the current law was incompatible with Human Rights law. They recommended that the current law is reviewed, but this has yet to be completed.
Loss of services
Did the deceased person provide care for another or help around the house, doing the gardening or shopping or looking after children or grandchildren? Do these tasks now need to be carried out by another member of the family or do you now need to pay someone to carry out these tasks? If so, it may be possible to include these items within a claim. Your lawyer would be able to go through these in more detail with you.
Were you financially dependent on the deceased? For example, were your reliant on their wage or pension? Did they financially support you? If so, your lawyer will be able to discuss including this in any claim.
Information and Support
The team at Pryers Solicitors are experts at claiming compensation for the death of a loved one. We will be able to advise you if you may or may not be able to claim compensation on a no win no fee basis. Please contact our experts to find out how we can help you.
If you would like advice and help dealing with your bereavement, there are many local charities who can help. National charities include Cruse.