What is a Fatal Injury Claim?
Where a person dies as a result of the wrongful act of another a fatal injury claim, may be in certain cases, be pursued against the other party. The relevant legislation is Part IV of the Civil Liability Act 1961.
Who is entitled to make the Claim?
The legislation states that a fatal injury claim may only be brought by what is termed a “statutory dependent”. A statutory dependant a person must have suffered financial loss or mental distress as a result of the deceased’s death and be related to the deceased as:
- Step – Parent
- Half Sibling
- Adopted Child
- Person in Loco- Parentis
- A person who is not married to the deceased but who, until the date of the deceased’s death, had been living with the deceased as husband or wife for a continuous period of not less than three years.
- Former spouse from whom the deceased was divorced, even if they had been cohabiting with another person for a period of at least three years.
Fatal injuries is a form of class action in that only one action may be brought against the same person in respect of the death and it must be brought on behalf of all the deceased’s dependants.
Only the deceased’s personal representative is entitled to bring this action within the first six months. Once the six month period has lapsed and no action has been taken or there is no personal representative then any of the deceased’s dependents can take an action.
What are the time limits for making a Fatal Injury Claim?
The period in which a fatal injury claim can be brought is either:
Within 2 years of the death of the deceased
Within 2 years from the date of knowledge of the person for whose benefit the legal proceedings are being brought.
This 2 year period is extended for people under a disability, and in this case the time limit will not begin to run until they cease to be under a disability or die, whichever occurs first.
It is also extended where people are under the age of 18 or of unsound mind.
What compensation is recoverable?
Compensation is recoverable under three heads of damages:
Loss of dependency – This is where the deceased was contributing to the income of the household through direct income or benefit in kind such as work around the house.
Mental Distress (Solatium) – This is a sum capped by statute at €35,000 and is the maximum allowable for the suffering and distress caused to the family of the deceased. This sum is to be shared amongst them. It should be noted that a former spouse cannot claim for mental distress.
Special Damages – general expenses arising from death such as funeral expenses, inquest expenses, memorial expenses.