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Fatal Accident at Work – A Guide to Claiming Compensation

It is an unfortunate fact that some workplace accidents result in fatalities. In 2022/23, government statistics show that 135 workers were killed in Great Britain. While no workplace will ever be completely safe, employers do have a duty to try and protect their staff by implementing practical safety measures. If they fail to do so and an accident results in a fatality, they may need to pay compensation. In this guide, we explain how fatal accident claims work and who can claim compensation.

While we know that compensation won’t help you get over the loss of a loved one, it can help you deal with the immediate or long-term financial implications of your loss. Our friendly team of advisors is here to help if you’d like to discuss your options. There’s no pressure to take action but if you call, we’ll assess your case for free and offer no-obligation legal advice. If we suspect that your claim is valid, it will be passed to one of our specialist solicitors. If they offer to help, you’ll be represented on a No Win, No Fee basis.

Please get in touch if you’d like our advice by:

  • Calling 0333 241 2519 to speak with a specialist; or
  • Connecting to our live chat service if you’d prefer to discuss your case online.

We’ve answered many questions on fatal accident claims in this guide but please feel free to call if you need to know anything further.

Who Can Claim Compensation for a Fatal Workplace Accident?

If a loved one was fatally injured in a workplace accident, you could be entitled to start a compensation claim against the employer. However, that is only the case if their death resulted as a direct consequence of their employer’s negligence.

How much compensation is paid in fatal accident claims varies from case to case and depends on a variety of circumstances. This is something we’ll explain in more detail later on.

If a successful fatal accident at work claim is made, two types of compensation could be awarded:

  • Compensation for the estate of the deceased.
    The deceased’s estate might be entitled to seek compensation for any pain and suffering that was endured prior to their death. This right is explained by the Law Reform Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1934.
  • Compensation for dependents of the deceased.
    In accordance with the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, some of the relatives of the deceased might qualify to be compensated because of the impact the death has had.

Importantly, in the first 6 months after a work-related fatality, only the estate of the deceased will be allowed to seek compensation. If that claim isn’t made within 6 months, the dependents of the deceased could begin a claim as well.

Those who might qualify as dependents of the deceased, according to the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, include:

  • Current or former wives, husbands or civil partners.
  • Parents (or someone who was treated as a parent).
  • Spouses who were cohabiting with the deceased.
  • The deceased’s uncles, aunts, brothers sisters (or their children)
  • The deceased’s children including adoptees or stepchildren.

If you’d like to check if it’s possible to claim on behalf of your loved one’s estate, for yourself or both, please contact our legal advisors today.

Can I Make a Fatal Accident at Work Claim?

In the UK, the Health and Safety at Work at Work etc Act 1974 dictates that all employers have a legal duty of care towards the safety of their employees.

As a result, this duty means employers must try to prevent workplace accidents by taking some practical steps. For example, they could:

  • Conduct workplace assessments regularly to try and spot any hazards.
  • Ensure staff are trained on workplace health and safety.
  • Install safety devices to reduce risks or provide personal protective equipment (PPE) where this isn’t possible.
  • Make sure that workplace equipment is safe, maintained properly and only used by trained employees.

Failure to carry out such steps could mean the employer has been negligent and you might be able to claim for a fatal accident at work if:

  • At the time of their accident, the deceased was owed a duty of care by their employer.
  • The employer’s negligence caused an accident.
  • The deceased died as a direct consequence of their employer’s negligence.

There are times when the deceased could have been partly to blame for the accident. In these cases of contributory negligence, fatal accident at work claims could still proceed but any settlement might be reduced depending on the employer’s level of blame.

If you believe your loved one died as a result of their employer’s negligence, please get in touch. We are happy to provide free legal advice for fatal accident claims no matter what you decide to do next.

Fatal Accident at Work Statistics

In 2022/23, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show that the main industries affected by fatal accidents at work were:

  • Construction – 45.
  • Agriculture, fishing & forestry – 21.
  • Manufacturing – 15.
  • Retail, wholesale, motor repair, food and accommodation – 15.
  • Storage and transport – 15.

We won’t provide examples of all the ways that fatal accidents at work could occur but here are some examples:

  • A farm labourer was trampled by cows after being told to cut through their field but had not been trained on working with livestock.
  • Due to poorly designed and constructed scaffolding, a construction worker died after it collapsed and caused them to fall from height.
  • A warehouse worker was crushed to death by falling stock after an untrained forklift driver collided with it.
  • A mechanic was killed when a poorly maintained ramp gave way while they were working under it.

To find out if we could help you to begin a fatal accident at work claim, please call today.

What Evidence Can Be Used for Fatal Accident Claims?

If your claim is taken on by a solicitor from our team, they’ll try to provide evidence to confirm how your loved one’s accident occurred and why their employer was responsible for their death.

Examples of the types of evidence they might use in fatal accident at work claims include:

  • A coroner’s report to help confirm the cause of death.
  • Phone or CCTV footage of the accident.
  • Statements from anyone who witnessed the accident such as colleagues of the deceased.
  • A copy of an HSE investigation as well as the company’s accident report form.
  • Copies of any medical records to prove how the deceased suffered before they died.

Don’t worry if you don’t yet have the evidence to support your claim. If you call and we believe you have a strong enough case, one of our solicitors may offer to find the information required as part of their service.

fatal accident at work background

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What Compensation Can I Claim for a Fatal Accident at Work?

You might be entitled to claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate for any suffering they endured prior to death. Their pain and suffering are covered by the general damages element of the claim.

A solicitor will often use their medical records and ask independent specialists to confirm how much suffering was involved. Then they may look at advisory compensation brackets listed in the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG).

Please note that although we’ve used JCG date in the fatal workplace accident compensation table below, the amounts are not guaranteed:

  • £3,760 – £4,390 compensation in cases where the victim lost consciousness immediately after the accident at work and dies within 6 weeks.
  • £4,670 may be awarded for the mental suffering due to the anticipation of death.
  • £12,540 – £23,810 compensation in cases where severe burns and lung damage result in full consciousness before death occurs within 3 months.

Close relatives may also be entitled to claim compensation for psychological injuries suffered as a result of the accident, such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

What Other Compensation Could Fatal Accident Claims Cover?

As well as general damages, it may be possible to claim bereavement payments following the death of a loved one. This may be possible for wives, husbands or parents (where the deceased had not married).

Currently, the standard bereavement payment is listed as £15,120. If more than one person claims, the amount will be split between them

You could also claim for other financial implications linked to your loss including:

  • Funeral Expenses: Reasonable costs associated with the funeral and burial or cremation can be claimed by the estate of the deceased.
  • Dependency Claim: This is compensation for the financial support the deceased would have provided to their dependents over time. It can cover loss of income, future earnings, and the provision of other financial benefits like pension contributions. The amount is calculated based on the deceased’s earnings, age, health, and the needs of the dependents.
  • Loss of Services: Compensation for the loss of practical support the deceased would have provided, such as childcare, DIY, gardening, and household chores.
  • Loss of Consortium (Loss of Society in Scotland): Compensation for the loss of companionship and support experienced by the spouse or partner of the deceased.
  • Financial Expenses: This can include medical expenses incurred before death, as well as any other costs directly related to the accident or the death.
  • Child Dependency: For children of the deceased, compensation can include financial support for maintenance and education, as well as for the loss of parental guidance.

If you’d like us to work out what compensation you could claim following a fatal accident at work, please call today.

Do I Need a Solicitor to Make a Fatal Accident Claim?

While it is acceptable to take on a fatal accident claim alone, it might not be the easiest way to proceed. During the claims process, you might have to discuss difficult issues and face complex medical and legal questioning.

Taking on a specialist solicitor may improve your chances of being fairly compensated for your loss and should make the claims process easier.

If you instruct one of our accident-at-work solicitors, they will:

  • Deal with your claim from beginning to end.
  • Handle communications with your loved one’s employer or their insurance provider.
  • Provide evidence and ensure that your claim is filed on time.
  • Negotiate on your behalf to try and secure the right level of compensation.
  • Keep you up to date as the claim progresses.

Importantly, your solicitor will provide a No Win, No Fee service. To do so, you’ll be asked to sign a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA).

The CFA means:

  • No upfront payments are needed to cover your solicitor’s work.
  • If the claim is lost, you won’t pay for your solicitor’s efforts.
  • If the claim is won, a percentage of your compensation payout will be deducted as a success fee.

Legally, the maximum success fee percentage allowable when using a CFA is 25 per cent. This means that you can be sure of retaining the bulk of your settlement if the claim is successful.

To check if you could make a No Win, No Fee fatal accident at work claim with one of our solicitors, please call today.

Do I Need to Go to Court for a Fatal Accident at Work Claim?

In most cases, solicitors aim to settle workplace fatality claims amicably with the deceased’s employer. This is often possible because of evidence such as HSE reports which can make it easier to prove liability.

However, in a small number of cases, court hearings might be required if your solicitor believes the case is strong enough but the employer won’t accept liability or offer to pay a fair settlement.

Contacting Us About a Fatal Accident Claim

We are ready to help if you’ve lost a loved one in a fatal accident at work. We won’t put any pressure on you to proceed and we’ll work at a speed that suits you. To arrange a free initial consultation, you can:

  • Call 0333 241 2519 and speak with a member of our team.
  • Use our live chat service to discuss your claim online.

As discussed earlier, all accepted fatal accident at work claims are handled by our specialist solicitors on a No Win, No Fee basis.

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