Dependency Claims: Criteria and Financial Compensation

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Article

01 October, 2021

When losing a loved one and considering making a claim for dependency, there are various legal requirements that set out the basis of being able to make such a claim, and what compensation is available if you are an eligible dependent. We will explore this further in this article.

Criteria for Dependency

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 contains a list of categories that set out who may be eligible to make a dependency claim. This is quite a broad list as follows:

  • Spouse, civil partner, former spouse or civil partner of the deceased
  • Couples who were cohabiting for a minimum of two years before the deceased passed away
  • Any parent (or person the deceased treated as a parent e.g., stepparent) of the deceased
  • Any child or descendant of the deceased
  • Where the deceased was married or in a civil partnership, any person the deceased treated as a child or parent in relation to that marriage or civil partnership (such as a stepchild)
  • Siblings, aunts, or uncles of the deceased

When an individual has passed away because of another's negligence, these certain individuals listed above may be eligible to bring a claim for money as a dependant of the deceased. The individual bringing the dependency claim must have been in some way reasonably reliant on the deceased for some form of financial support or service and, because of the death, these financial needs or other services can no longer be provided by the person who has died, and the dependant has suffered a loss. The court may therefore award compensation based on the loss of support the dependant has suffered.

Dependency claims therefore generally include two areas:

1. Financial Dependency - A situation where the dependent is financially worse off than they would be had the deceased survived. For example, a spouse who was reliant on their deceased partners income.

Value of Financial Dependency Claim - This includes considering the earnings that the deceased would have earned had the accident not occurred. The deceased's lost pension, any alternative income and savings may also be considered. However, this is a complex calculation, given that the court will consider that had the deceased survived, they would have continued to earn money but also continued to spend that money.

2. Loss of Service Dependency - a situation where the deceased performed an act for the benefit of the Dependent which can no longer be carried out. For example, DIY tasks, or housework that need to be now carried out by a professional or carer.

Value of Loss of Service Dependency Claim - this is quite hard to establish a particular value, given that services such as looking after children often do not have a specific financial value.

Statutory Bereavement Award Uplift

In addition to the above financial claims, there is also the existence of the Statutory Bereavement Award, which is still subject to the eligibility requirements discussed above.

The compensation for a bereavement award has been increased from £12,980 to £15,120. This applies to families who have lost a loved one on or after 1st May 2020. Families who have already suffered prior to this date will receive the old award of £12,980.

As we have discussed, the calculations in relation to dependency claims are complex and individual to each set of circumstances.

For more information contact Leonie Millard in our Personal Injury department via email or phone on 01254 770517. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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