Fatal Injuries*

fatal-injury-claimIf a loved one has died due to the negligent actions of another party, we appreciate what a difficult time it is for you. Bereavement can be made so much worse by the stress of taking legal proceedings. But compensation for such claims must cover hospital costs and funeral costs which you have unfortunately encountered. If a family member has passed away as a result of a fatal injury caused by another party, please talk to us. Fatal Injuries is a very complicated area of law and we will guide you through it with empathy and understanding.

There is a limitation of the length of time the dependants have to bring a fatal injury action. It cannot be brought after the expiration of two years either from the date of the death of the deceased or the date of the knowledge of the person for whose benefit the action is brought, whichever is the latest.

With effect from the 11th January 2014 the Solatium (compensation for grief) is increased to €35,000.00 under S.I. No.6 of 2014. This new limit for Solatium reflects the increase in the CPI since the limit was last modified in 1996.

A fatal injuries claim is brought on behalf of all of the deceased’s dependants. Within the first six months of death, the correct person to bring a claim is the legal personal representative, however, if no action has been brought within six months, any dependant can bring a fatal injuries claim. Part IV of the Civil Liability Act, 1961 allows the dependants of the victim of a tort who has died to recover certain types of damage from the Defendant. The damages recoverable are funeral expenses, mental distress, and loss of financial dependency. The damages are proportionate to the injury incurred by the death by each of the dependants.

Section 47 of the 1961 defines the various components of fatal injuries proceedings. The definition of ‘dependant’ is central to fatal injuries proceedings and is defined, in respect of a deceased person whose death is caused by a wrongful act as the following classes of persons who have suffered injury or mental distress as a result of the death as:

(a)    a spouse, civil partner within the meaning of the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010, parent, grandparent, step-parent, child, grandchild, step-child, brother, sister, half-brother or half-sister of the deceased,

(b) a person whose marriage to the deceased has been dissolved by a decree of divorce that was granted under the Family Law (Divorce) Act, 1996 or under the law of a country or jurisdiction other than the State and is recognised in the State,

(ba) a person whose civil partnership with the deceased has been dissolved by a decree of dissolution that was granted under the Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 or under the law of a country or jurisdiction other than the State and is recognised in the State, or

(c) a person who was 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.

Section 49 of the 1961 Act deals with damages pursuant to fatal injuries proceedings. There are three categories of damages pursuant to section 49 for which a decedent’s dependants can recover – injury, mental distress and expenses. The narrow interpretation of the term ‘injury’ in the act means that dependants are restricted in their ability to recover damages for the loss of personal services, in that those services which are financially measurable are only recoverable. Loss of consortium, loss of society and loss of association are not recoverable in fatal injuries proceedings as they are not deemed to fall within the definition of ‘injury’ pursuant to the act. A notable exception for the inability of dependants to claim under these headings of damages is the Hepatitis C Compensation Tribunal Act, 1997 (as amended). Section 28 of the Civil Liability and Courts Act, 2004, which deals with income undeclared for tax purposes specifically does not apply to section 48 of the 1961 Act. Section 1(1)(b) of the Courts Act, 1988, abolished jury trials in fatal injuries proceedings.

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.