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Major trauma compensation claims – what happens to a claim if the injured person dies before conclusion?

Tim Jones investigates what happens to a major trauma injuries compensation claim if the injured person dies before conclusion. Can the claim continue and can someone take over? What are the potential issues and who receives the funds of the claim?

When someone suffers major injuries as the result of an accident, there are times when life expectancy may be shortened and they sadly pass away before their claim for compensation has been finalised.  In this latest article, we look at what happens to the claim in these circumstances and whether this gives rise to any other claims by the family.

Can the compensation claim continue?

In short, yes. In the majority of cases, it is possible for the Estate of the deceased person to continue the claim on behalf of the Estate, under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934.

Who can bring the claim for compensation?

This depends on whether there is a valid will or not.  If there is a valid will, the claim will be brought by the named executors on behalf of the Estate.  If there is no valid will, then the closest relative, usually a person’s spouse, adult children, siblings or parent, can apply to be the administrator and continue the claim. 

Are there any complications?

Personal injury claims usually require the injured person to attend a medical examination so a medical report on their injuries can be prepared as part of the claims process.  If the medical examination has already taken place, and the report finalised prior to death, the valuation of the claim in respect of general damages, which includes pain, suffering and loss of amenity, is relatively straightforward. 

However, if the medical examination has not taken place, it will be necessary for the report to be prepared on the basis of their medical records and for agreement to be reached between both parties as to an appropriate amount of compensation for general damages.

The claim for damages will be limited to the period between the date of the accident and the date of death.  In addition, it may also be possible for reasonable funeral expenses to be claimed, but only if the accident caused the death.

Who receives funds from any compensation claim?

Payment is made to the Estate and then paid out in line with the deceased’s will, or if no will has been left, the rules of intestacy.

Are there any additional claims that can be made as a result of their death?

In some circumstances, it may be possible to bring a claim under the Fatal Accident Act 1976, but only if the person’s death is a direct result of the accident.  Under this Act:

  • A fixed sum bereavement award of £12,980 for deaths occurring before 1 May 2020, or £15,120 for deaths occurring on or after 1 May 2020.  This award can be claimed by a wife, husband or civil partner of the deceased, or in respect of a deceased unmarried child under 18, between the parents or to the mother (if the parents are not married).  If more than one person is entitled to the award, it is shared between them.
  • Dependency claims may be made to in respect of any financial loss due to no longer having the person’s financial support, or if there were services the deceased person carried out for them such as gardening, DIY or household chores.  These clams can be fairly complicated to calculate and can lead to quite large awards and may be brought by the deceased’s husband, wife or civil partner (including ex-spouses and partners, and those who have lived as such for 2 years before the death).  Parents, children, grandchildren, siblings, aunts, uncles, in-law and stepchildren may also be able to claim.
  • Funeral expenses can be recovered under the Fatal Accident Act if they have not already been claimed as part of the personal injury claim.

How can Major Trauma Group help?

Major Trauma Group is a network of specialist serious injury law firms, experienced in dealing with claims following major trauma.  We assist clients throughout England and Wales in getting compensation to support their recovery. Our emphasis on early rehabilitation is supported by a medical clinician with rehabilitation expertise, as well as highly experienced independent financial advisers and case managers; all working with you to support your claim.

If you would like a free no-obligation chat with one of our members, please email hello@majortraumagroup.co.uk or call us on 0330 311 2578

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