There are several elements to any claim for damages arising out of a fatal accident. There are two types of claim that can be made under separate statute:
Potential Claims under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934
Under the above Act, the deceased's estate inherits the deceased's right to sue in respect of the cause of death. Any recovery of damages would fall into the deceased's estate. Only an Executor or Administrator can pursue a claim under this Act on behalf of the estate.
The claim for the losses of the estate necessarily means:
- funeral expenses
- any financial losses the deceased had incurred from the date of the accident to the date of his death i.e. any loss of earnings or damage/loss to property
- whether there was any pain, suffering and loss of amenity experienced by the deceased between the date of the accident and death
However, there are strict rules governing who a 'dependant' is. In this Act, 'dependant' means: the wife or husband or former wife or husband of the deceased; the civil partner or former civil partner of the deceased; any person who:
- was living with the deceased in the same household immediately before the date of the death; and
- had been living with the deceased in the same household for at least 2 years before that date; and
- was living during the whole of that period as the husband or wife or civil partner of the deceased
- any parent of the deceased
- any person who was treated by the deceased as his parent
- any child of the deceased (including stepchildren)
- any person (not being a child of the deceased) who in the case of any marriage to which the deceased was at any time a party, was treated by the deceased as a child of the family in relation to that marriage
- any person (not being a child of the deceased) who, in the case of any civil partnership in which the deceased was at any time a civil partner, was treated by the deceased as a child of the family in relation to that civil partnership
- any person who is a brother, a sister, uncle or aunt of the deceased
- any person who is the issue of (i.e. the child) a brother, a sister, uncle or aunt of the deceased
- illegitimate person shall be treated as the legitimate child of his mother and reputed father
Any dependent must fit into the above statutory definition.
In addition to this:
- any such dependant must have had a reasonable expectation or anticipation of a financial benefit/support from the deceased.
Clearly for a claim to be brought under both the Law Reform Act and the Fatal Accidents Act, it would have to be shown that the death came about because of the accident injuries. If it occurred for other reasons, no claim would arise.
If the accident injuries accelerated the death, there probably would be some claim, but limited to the extent to which the death was accelerated.
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