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Fatal Accident Compensation Claims

Losing a close family member in a fatal accident is incredibly traumatic. We understand this is a challenging time, and you may have concerns about filing a claim against those responsible. Fatal accident compensation differs from other injury claims. Here, we outline how such claims are handled under Irish law.

Fatal accident

Bringing a fatal injury claim in Ireland

It is the worst thing that can happen for the people who are left behind but the scheme provided under Part IV of the Civil Liability Act, 1961 means compensation by way of damages for injury causing death are capped at €35,000. While there can be a claim for other ancillary costs and expenses, the amount that can be recovered compared with if the person had survived, but been very badly injured, is substantially less.

However, if there is a situation where the person who has died as a result of the accident had been responsible for providing financially for a family and was killed leaving dependents, then there will be a claim arising by those dependants for the loss that they have suffered as a result of being deprived of the income and support that they received from the deceased person. In that case, the value of that income and support would need to be calculated on an annual basis and then a capital sum arrived at on an actuarial basis based on the period for which the dependent could have expected to continue to be a dependant of the deceased person.

Indeed, the loss of benefit arising to a dependent in this way need not only be a financial loss arising on the death of a breadwinner in a family. It can be any manner of benefit that can be converted into a monetary sum. If, for instance, you had a child with elderly parents for whom the child came and provided services to help them (say doing the shopping and washing, or similar sorts of tasks). Even if no money ever changed hands for the work carried out by the child, in the event of the child’s death a case could be made to work out what it would cost to provide a replacement for those services and that cost would form part of the claim.

Similarly, if you have a husband or wife in a situation where one party doesn’t work full time but takes care of all of the domestic duties on behalf of the family (such as tending to the household, child care, and travel arrangements) in the event of the loss of that caregiver the cost of providing professional care to replace what had been done previously free of charge would need to be calculated and capitalised for the purposes of a claim.

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Nervous shock claims in fatal accident cases

There’s also the possibility of a claim for nervous shock: if a loved one actually witnesses the accident that gives rise to the fatality or other serious injury, they will be entitled to recover compensation for the psychological injuries that they suffered as a consequence. However, in order for a claim for nervous shock to arise, the claimant will have to have been physically present and a direct witness to the incident that caused the injury.

A feature of fatal injury claims is that they are brought by one nominated party on behalf of all of the parties entitled to bring a claim. There is no hierarchy or order of priority in terms of which party is entitled to commence a claim and therefore the first person entitled to initiate a claim will in effect do so on behalf of all. Ideally, this might be done by agreement between all parties entitled to bring a claim but there is no need for it to be agreed and any party entitled may proceed unilaterally. However, all fatal injury cases must be ruled by a court before they can be concluded and, therefore, no matter who brings the claim, the court will oversee the claim and ensure that any compensation arising from the death is distributed appropriately between all parties entitled to claim in accordance with the law.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the questions we are often asked in relation to this topic.

  • In what circumstances is it possible to bring a fatal injury claim?

    The family of a deceased person can bring a compensation claim in scenarios where the death resulted from the negligent, irresponsible, or illegal actions of another party. This includes incidents such as road traffic accidents, workplace accidents, medical negligence, or any situation where a duty of care was breached leading to the fatality. For instance, if a person dies in a car accident caused by a reckless driver, the family can claim for the loss and damages resulting from the death.

    Additionally, fatal injury claims can also be brought in cases of public liability, such as accidents occurring due to unsafe premises or defective products. If a person suffers a fatal injury due to slipping on an unmarked wet floor in a store or due to a faulty product, the dependents can pursue a claim. The compensation sought can cover financial losses, funeral expenses, and a capped amount for mental distress, provided the claim is filed within the legal timeframe.

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  • What are the time limits for bringing a claim?

    The time limit for claims is two years from the date of death, not from the date of the incident that caused the death. This period allows the dependents of the deceased to initiate legal proceedings to seek compensation for their loss. If the claim is not filed within this timeframe, it may become statute-barred, preventing the dependents from pursuing it further.

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  • Who can bring a claim for a fatal injury?

    A claim can be brought by a statutory dependent of the deceased. This includes the spouse, parents, grandparents, step-parents, children, grandchildren, step-children, siblings, half-siblings, civil partners, and cohabitants who lived with the deceased for at least three years. Only one person, typically representing all dependents, files the claim on behalf of all eligible parties. The compensation awarded is then distributed among the dependents according to the court's judgment.

Talk to our team about bringing your claim

If you have suffered due to a tragic event in your family caused by the negligence of a third party, get in contact with our personal injury solicitors today to make a start on your claim or gather more information. Call us on 1800 390 555 and an experienced member of staff will discuss your situation and potential next steps. You can also email on and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

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About McCarthy + Co

With more than 30 years of experience in dealing with personal injury claims, McCarthy + Co. has expertise in a wide variety of fields including fatal accidents on the road or in the workplace. We are a family-run business, and we pride ourselves on offering honest, impartial, and helpful advice.

Our offices are based in Dublin and Cork but we work with clients throughout Ireland in locations ranging from Galway to Waterford. You can count on us for legal advice, guidance, and assistance on any form of personal injury.

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Flor McCarthy

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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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John McCarthy

John McCarthy

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is a seasoned solicitor with almost 20 years of experience, specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims, focusing particularly on high-value compensation cases. His extensive litigation experience spans Circuit Court, High Court and Supreme Court levels.

John's practice involves a diverse range of cases, from personal injury and wrongful death to property damage, defective products, professional negligence and judicial reviews.
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