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Who Can Bring a Claim When Someone Dies?

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One of the most difficult types of cases we assist people with here at McCarthy + Co are personal injury claims that result in the death of the injured party. We understand that this is a very difficult time for the family of the deceased and, as such, we set out to provide a caring and empathetic service to those looking for advice following a fatal injury.

One of the most common questions we are asked, in relation to this topic, is “who can bring a compensation claim when someone dies?” Below, we have answered this and other key questions in regard to this topic.

What is a fatal injury claim?

Fatal accident claims arise when a person loses their life because of the wrongful actions of another person. Bringing a successful claim of this nature involves proving that a third party’s actions or negligent behaviour were the chief cause of the injured party’s death.

Under what circumstances can a fatal injury compensation claim be brought?

There are many different scenarios where the family of the deceased may have grounds to bring a fatal accident compensation claim. This includes the following:

  • Road traffic accidents – involving a car, motorcycle, bicycle, or any other type of vehicle, where a negligent party is involved such as a drink driver.
  • Criminal acts perpetrated causing death – such as cases involving corporate manslaughter or the civilian crime of murder.
  • Accidents at work leading to death – such as falls from height or heavy machinery accidents.
  • Medical malpractice leading to death – where the negligent behaviour of medical professionals causes an injury that directly leads to their patient’s death.

Who can bring the fatal injury claim?

In answer to the original question, “who can bring a claim when someone dies?”, the specific piece of legislation to refer to is The Civil Liability Act, 1961, Part 4. The legislation states that the “personal representative” of the deceased may bring a claim. However, if they do not bring a claim within 6 months, then any member of their family may do so.

The definition of family is broad and may include the husband, wife, mother, father, grandparent, sibling, stepparent, or stepchild.

Will an inquest be required for my case?

An inquest is required only in scenarios where the death is unexplained or there are significant concerns over the cause of the death. If a post-mortem examination of the body concludes with an explanation of the death, then no inquest is required as per Section 17 of the Coroners Act 1962.

What are typical compensation payouts in fatal accident claims?

In Ireland, the compensation award for the mental suffering of dependants following a fatal accident is currently capped at €35,000. However, for those financially dependent on the deceased there is a provision for loss of dependency which is awarded on a case-by-case basis. Dependents may also be able to claim for expenses relating to the loss, such as funeral arrangements.

What are the next steps for the dependents of someone who has died?

If a member of your family has died due to the negligent or criminal actions of a third party, it is advisable to consult with an injury solicitor who has experience in bringing these types of cases. They will be able to assist you in gathering evidence and preparing the claim that you will need to submit to the Personal Injuries Board.

With over 30 years of experience in handling sensitive claims of this nature, the McCarthy + Co team would be glad to assist you in taking your case forward.

Flor McCarthy

Flor McCarthy wears multiple hats, not only as the managing partner of one of Ireland’s leading law firms, but also as an author, speaker and an acknowledged expert in client service, innovation and marketing. Beginning his academic journey at UCC, Flor furthered his education with a master’s degree in law from UCD. After gaining valuable experience as a solicitor in Dublin, the allure of home and the family brought him back to West Cork to contribute his expertise to the family business.


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