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Personal Injury Fatal Injury Claims

Fatal Injury Claims

How to Claim on Behalf of the Estate

I am not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

Woody Allen

Peace of Mind

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Fatal Injury Claims

What is a Fatal Injury Claim?

Where the death of a person is caused by the wrongful act of another then the dependants of the deceased can sue for damages.

The rules governing fatal injury accidents are set out in Part 4 of the Civil Liabilities Act 1961 IV.

Only one claim can be made on behalf of the estate.

For the first six months after the death of the deceased the personal representatives are the only persons entitled to bring a fatal injury action.

After six months any of the statutory dependants can bring a fatal injury action.

The Heads of Damages:

There are three heads of damages as follows;

  1. Mental distress: The mental distress figure is capped by statute at €35,000 and is the maximum allowable for the suffering and distress caused to the dependants. The €35,000 is shared out amongst all of the statutory dependants. In practise it is common for some dependants to waive their rights.
  2. Special damages: These include funeral expenses including the cost of burial and cremation and the cost of a tomb stone. Other expenses include travelling expenses incurred by the dependent travelling to the funeral, cost of the acknowledgement cards, a wake, mourning clothes and legal representation at the inquest relating to the death.
  3. Pecuniary Loss: This is a loss of monetary benefit which each dependent could have reasonably expected to have received had the deceased not died as a result of the defendant’s wrongful act. It is the main heading for claiming damages.
    Pecuniary Loss includes monetary contributions normally made by the deceased to the dependants, benefits in kind received from third parties through the deceased such as the use of a company car, the loss of goods provided by the deceased, the loss of certain services such as where the deceased carried out all home repairs and decorations. Normally an actuary is employed to establish each dependent’s annual average monetary loss suffered as a result of the deceased’s death and to capitalise this sum into the future.For example, in the case of a wife and a mother dying the costs of the services provided by a mother to her children will need to be worked out for each stage of the children’s development and capitalised into the future.A deduction may be made for the possible re-marriage of the surviving dependent spouse.

    The calculation of future pecuniary loss is difficult. It involves establishing the dependants annual average annual loss and applying a multiplier to this figure. The likely duration of the loss needs to be established and then the amount is discounted depending on the real rate of return net of tax. The current real rate of return applied by the courts is 1.5%.

The Statutory Dependants

The Statutory Dependants are as follows;

  • Spouse
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Step-parent
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Sibling
  • Half-sibling
  • Adopted child
  • Person in loco parentis
  • Co-habitee who they can prove they have been living together as husband and wife for a continuous period of more than three years
  • Former Spouse – only if they can prove financial loss.

Injury Board Awards:

Nearly all fatal injury claims must first be submitted to the Injuries Board.
Any award made by the Injuries Board must be ruled or approved by the court.
It is only when the Injuries Board issue an authorisation that court proceedings can be commenced.

Time Limits:

In general, the time limit is two years from the date of the death or two years from the date of knowledge of the person for who’s benefit the action is brought whichever is the latest. In the vast majority of cases the limitation period for making a claim is two years from the date of death.

The mental distress figure of €35,000 is divided among the Statutory Dependants. It is common for some of the Statutory Dependants to renounce their rights.

John Griffin

John Griffin

Principal Solicitor

Peace of Mind

Let me ease the pain of this tragic accident by looking after the fatal injury claim for you.

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* In contentious business, a legal practitioner shall not charge any amount in respect of legal costs expressed as a percentage or proportion of any damages (or other moneys) that may become payable to his or her client or purport to set out the legal costs to be charged to a junior counsel as a specified percentage of proportion of the legal costs paid to a senior counsel. A legal practitioner shall not without the prior written agreement of his or her client deduct or appropriate any amount in respect of legal costs from the amount of any changes or moneys that become payable to the client in respect of legal services that the legal practitioner provided to the client.

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