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Fatal Accidents – Dependency Claims & Ensuring Adequate Compensation

Have you suffered the loss of a loved one of whom you were financially dependent?

Common Factual Circumstances

The most common types of dependency claims arise out of circumstances involving:

  • Road accidents;
  • Work place accidents; and
  • Public liability accidents.

For a dependency claim to be successful, two elements must first be met. Firstly, that the death of the deceased was caused by the negligent act of the Defendant; and Secondly, but for the deceased having passed, he or she would be entitled to maintain a civil action against the Defendant[1].

Compensation

In a successful dependency action, the eligible relatives of the deceased may recover damages only for the loss of a “pecuniary benefit”. Notably, the legislation provides a rather extensive definition for whose benefit an action may be brought. In this regard, we would encourage you to contact a specialist member of KM Splatt & Associates to further discuss your eligibility.

The loss for which damages may be claimed is, in its purest form, the loss of the deceased’s financial support and the loss of services provided by the deceased prior to his or her death. Loss of services include a wide range of domestic duties which one spouse may have rendered to their partner or children prior to their death. Examples include and are not limited to: housekeeping; garden maintenance; and home maintenance.

Notably, a claim for dependency will not provide damages for injured feelings or the inherent emotions of loss that we all suffer following the loss of a loved one. The damages awarded for a dependency claim are paid in one lump sum, and certain contingencies are taken into consideration.

From a Court’s perspective, the settled principle behind the assessment of “compensatory damages” is that the injured party should receive compensation in a sum which, so far as money can do, put the injured party in the same position as he or she would have been in had the negligent act not have been committed[2]. Like any compensatory type claim, financial compensation is the only form of compensation, be it an extremely artificial form. Compensation for the loss of a loved one will never be able to replace their place in your heart, however, it will alleviate some of the financial stress and expense that has been left behind.

Time Limitations

Strict time limitations are enforced by the relevant legislation and we would encourage you to seek independent legal advice from an accredited specialist, such as KM Splatt & Associates as soon as possible.

Today’s blog is by Liam Cannon (Solicitor)

[1] QLRC WP 56, Queensland Law Reform Commission, ‘Damages in an Action for Wrongful Death’ (2002)

[2] Ibid.

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