If a family member dies in a road traffic accident, it can be extremely shocking and overwhelming. After a fatal accident, it may not occur to people that such a tragic loss may have severe financial implications. The average funeral cost in the UK is nearly £2,000, and many families that lose a family member in an accident go on to suffer financial hardship. Just as victims of an accident are entitled to make a claim for damages if an accident was not their fault, family members can make claim too.
There is a statutory award for bereavement available for family members who lose a loved one in a fatal accident. This is a fixed lump sum set by parliament. As of 2013, the statutory bereavement award was set at £12,900, but it may change in subsequent years due to inflation and other factors. Dependant family members of the deceased can make a bereavement award claim against anybody found negligent or at fault for a fatal accident.
Not all family members can make a claim for the statutory award for bereavement, but only those considered ‘dependant’. A dependant is specified as a child under 18, a spouse or a partner that cohabited with the deceased for two years or more before the accident. Other relatives are not eligible, even if they relied on that person for financial support. However, eligible dependants can make a claim even if they have suffered no financial hardship, so long as the accident was the fault of somebody other than the deceased.
In addition to the statutory award for bereavement, anybody that relied on the deceased person for their financial welfare can make what is known as a dependants’ claim against those responsible for the accident. When it comes to this type of claim, anybody related to the deceased and relied on financial support from them is eligible to claim, not just official dependents. These include children, spouses, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, cousin, nieces or nephews, so long as they relied on the deceased for some form of financial support. This is a separate claim that can be made regardless of whether somebody is eligible for a statutory award for bereavement or not.