A fatal injury can have a devastating impact on the deceased’s family. We understand that making a fatal injury claim for compensation following the death of a loved one could be extremely difficult. While no amount of money could ever compensate for the loss of a loved one, a fatal injury claim may ease the financial burden and help provide for the deceased’s dependents.
If a loved one has died as a result of the wrongful or negligent act of another, you may be entitled to bring a fatal injury action. This can arise from a wrongful accident e.g., road traffic accident, medical negligence, or an accident at work.
Fatal Injury claims first go through the Injuries Board. This will then go through the same process as a personal injury claim.
Under the Statute of Limitations, you have two years from the date of the death to bring a fatal injury action. It is important to note that the limit begins on the date of the death rather than when the date of the accident or injury causing the death occurred.
Should it be the case that the Injuries Board does not assess your claim or if the assessment is rejected by either party, you will be issued with an Authorisation to allow you to bring your claim through the court process.
A fatal injury claim may only be brought by a statutory dependent. This means that you must have suffered financial loss or mental distress as a result of the deceased’s death. You must be related to the deceased as:
- Spouse or former spouse
- Step – Parent
- Half Sibling
- Adopted Child
- Person in Loco-Parentis
- A person who is not married to the deceased but had been living with the deceased as husband or wife for a continuous period of not less than three years.
One action may be brought against the same person in respect of the death, and it must be on behalf of all the deceased’s dependents.
Only the deceased’s legal personal representative is entitled to bring this action within the first six months. Once the six-month period has lapsed and if no previous action has been taken or there is no legal personal representative then any of the deceased’s dependents can take an action. Only one action for damages may be brought against the same person in respect of the death.
Compensation can be recoverable under three heads of damages:
Loss of Dependency – If the deceased was contributing to the income of the household through direct income or benefit in kind such as work around the house.
Mental Distress (Solatium) – There is a sum capped by statute at €35,000.00. This is the maximum that can be awarded for the suffering and distress caused to the family of the deceased. This sum is shared amongst the dependents. A former spouse cannot claim for mental distress.
Special Damages – These damages can include general expenses arising from death such as funeral expenses, inquest expenses, memorial expenses.
In addition, family members who witnessed the accident or the immediate aftermath may be in a position to pursue a separate claim if they have suffered psychological trauma.
Taking a claim for a fatal injury can be difficult, losing a loved one is already a challenging time. That is why it is important to contact a solicitor who can guide you through the process and ensure you are updated throughout your claim, while taking the pressure off the legal formalities. If you have lost a loved one due to a fatal injury, contact a solicitor today to see what options are available to you.