Fatal accident claims
Jul 2021
Clinical Negligence

Fatal accident claims

Clare Thompson
Partner, Head of Clinical Negligence

Where a death has been caused as a result of medical negligence, the deceased’s estate and dependents may be able to claim for compensation. Hay and Kilner’s clinical negligence team have decades of experience in representing claimants in these often traumatic cases.

Nobody ever wants to bring a fatal accident claim at such a difficult time and we understand that no amount of money can ever begin to compensate you for the loss of a loved one. However, if financial losses have been suffered as a result of a death, an award of compensation can help to relieve the financial burden.

It can be vital for dependents to understand the circumstances in which they can bring a claim, and what the law says can be claimed, in order to ease the financial burden.

Who can bring a Fatal Claim?

The claim is usually brought on behalf of the deceased’s estate by those who are named as executors in the will or those who are authorised to represent the Deceased if they died without making a will.

The role of the Coroner

In certain circumstances, the death may have to be reported to the local Coroner. The Coroner is the person who investigates deaths in England and Wales and they will decide whether or not to investigate the circumstances of the death further and open a formal inquest. We can advise and guide you through the inquest process.

What can you claim for?

  • Where a person has died as a result of negligence, a statutory bereavement award is payable to the deceased’s wife, husband or civil partner, or to the mother or parents of the deceased if they were under the age of 18. The amount of that award is dependent upon when the death occurred.
    Funeral expenses and other associated costs such as the wake, cemetery fees and the cost of a headstone.

  • The injury itself, taking into account the pain, suffering and loss of the deceased prior to their death.
    The cost of care provided to your loved one and any loss of earnings they have suffered can also be included, together with additional medical and travel expenses.

  • The loss of love or affection on behalf of children in respect of their mother and father and/or by a wife or husband after a long marriage. This recognises the unquantifiable services provided by that person.

  • Dependents can also claim for the lost services that the Deceased would have provided had it not been for their avoidable death. These services can include cooking meals, washing, ironing, DIY and gardening. A child dependent may claim for assistance which was provided by a parent in respect of homework and school runs.

  • All types of income will be considered, including if the deceased was in receipt of benefits. A claim can be brought in respect of the loss of financial dependency on the deceased.

Time Limits

The law states that you have three years from the date of death in which to issue proceedings at court. Investigations into claims can take a year or two and so it is best to take advice as soon as you can.


It is likely that the Defendant or its representatives will ask to see a Grant of Probate (if your loved one left a will), or letters of administration (which is the equivalent document if your loved one died without a will). We have a specialist probate team which will assist us in obtaining the necessary documentation if it is needed for your case.

How can we help?

At Hay and Kilner, we have one of the leading Clinical Negligence Teams in the North East, dedicated to helping claimants in clinical negligence claims.

When you are ready, you may wish to speak to one of the sympathetic solicitors in our team for guidance and advice. We will make this complex process as easy as possible for you and provide the support you need at this difficult time.

For more information on any of the above, or how we can help you or your family, please contact Clare Thompson, or a member of our Clinical Negligence team on 0191 232 8345.

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‘Hay & Kilner’ and ‘Hay & Kilner Law Firm’ are both trading names of Hay & Kilner LLP, a limited liability partnership registered in England & Wales with registered number OC418767. Our registered office is at The Lumen, St James' Boulevard, Newcastle Helix, Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 5BZ and we are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (Authorisation number 643191). We use the word ‘partner’ to refer to a member of Hay & Kilner LLP. A list of the members is available at our registered office.