Road Traffic Accident*

Fatal Road Accident Claims*

A fatal accident claim* is a legal action taken whereby a person dies as a result of the wrongful act of another. The loss of a loved one due to a fatal accident is difficult to put into words. In this event, although the loss cannot be compensated for, the financial burden that their dependents bear thereafter can be alleviated through the fatal accidents claims process.

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When Do Claims Arise?

Fatal accident claims or fatal injury actions arise in situations where a person has died as a result of the wrongful acts of another person. It is the dependants of a deceased person that bring a fatal accident claim against that wrongdoer.

The relevant legislation (Part 4 of the Civil Liability Act, 1961) states that only one claim may be brought against the same person in respect of the death. It must be brought on behalf of all the deceased’s dependants. If you have had the terrible experience of losing a loved one and think you may qualify for a fatal accident claim*, it is important to contact a personal injury* solicitor.

An important aspect to consider in any personal injury claim* is to get evidence of the damage caused. This is usually demonstrated by medical evidence such as medical records or a report from a medical practitioner supporting the claim.

It goes without saying that the damage caused by a fatal accident injury* is death.

The different types of cases usually surrounding a fatal accident claim* includes:

Making a Claim

The legal representative of the deceased has a period of 2 years from the date of death to bring forward legal proceedings to seek a fatal accident claim*. A fatal accident claim* is most commonly brought up to protect the name and reputation of the deceased. If the deceased person is found to have contributed to their own death there will be a deduction for that factor of contributory negligence. As a result, this deduction is carried out at the discretion of the court. This is dependent on the circumstances of each individual case. To pursue a claim it is important to note that you need to be dependent on the deceased for financial support, have suffered financially and emotionally due to the fatal accident and be related to the deceased. Hence, dependents usually include:

  • Partner or former partner
  • Parent
  • Child
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Brother or Sister

The losses suffered by the financial dependent of the deceased are evaluated under the following headings:

  • Loss of services provided by the deceased,
  • The loss of financial dependency since the accident,
  • Loss of future dependency prior to retirement,
  • A loss of future financial dependency after retirement,
  • Accelerated value of deductible assets passing on death.

Furthermore, depending on the case, the court may decide to instruct the offender to pay you a settlement amount for the ordeal you had to go through. Our team of experienced fatal accident solicitors can help you through this process.

Case Settlement

A defendant is only entitled to make a claim in a fatal accident claim* if they have suffered financial loss or mental distress as a result of the death of a loved one. The legislation permits a claim to be brought under three headings:

Financial Losses

A person who was financially dependent on the deceased may suffer financial losses in the event of their death. For example, the surviving spouse and immediate family. The onus is on the person making the fatal accident claim to prove the financial loss that they and each dependent suffered. They do this by proving how much they would have received had the deceased lived, this may involve actuarial calculations.

Funeral Expenses

Funeral expenses can include the usual costs of burial/cremation and a headstone. Other expenses that can be included are the costs of acknowledgement cards, travelling expenses etc.

Mental Distress

The amount awarded to dependents of a deceased person for mental stress following a fatal accident is known as solatium. The maximum amount of fatal injury compensation for this aspect is €35,000. The solatium claimed is intended as an acknowledgement of grief rather than any attempt at compensation for it. To this figure would be added financial dependency loss into the future.

While this may help relieve the financial burden in the short term, it will never replace a loved one. We understand that this is a very difficult time. We are here to help you move through the fatal accident claim process with ease. Should you wish to discuss, feel free to contact our office for further information on making a claim*.


What to do after a road traffic accident*?

Following a road traffic accident*, whether as a driver, passenger, pedestrian or cyclist, there are a number of steps you should follow:

  1. Seek medical attention

    Your health is your wealth and should be your first priority. Immediately after a road traffic accident*, take a second to assess yourself to determine if you have any injuries. Then check if any passengers or anybody else involved in the accident need medical attention. If you or anyone else involved has sustained a serious injury ensure that you contact an ambulance to attend the scene.

    For minor injuries, you must remember that minor injuries where you ‘feel fine’ could progress to a more serious injury in the future. In this case it is always better to be safe than sorry and advisable that you go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) or local GP to be checked out.

  2. Gather all relevant information at the scene

    It is important that you gather all the relevant information in connection with your accident:

    • Details of another driver(s)/people involved: name, address, contact information, vehicle registration number and vehicle insurance information. You can also offer your own information to the others involved in the accident.
    • Name and contact details of any emergency service workers at the scene – paramedic/Gardaí.
    • Take a picture of the scene and damage to all vehicles involved from different angles; this will help your solicitor understand how the accident happened.
    • If there are any CCTV recordings of the accident, such as CCTV cameras in a nearby shop, for example, you should try to obtain this footage.
    • Dash Cam footage – if you have any.
    • Record the time and date of the accident.
    • Weather conditions at the time.
    • Receipt for repairs of damage to your vehicle.
    • If possible, try to collect the contact details of anybody that witnessed the accident. This may be of use if you do decide to pursue a road traffic accident claim*.
  3. Report the incident to the Gardaí

    Regardless of how minor or serious the road traffic accident* was, it is important that you call the Gardaí to report the accident immediately.

    For minor accidents, the Gardaí may tell you that they will not be attending the scene. In this scenario, the appropriate information should be exchanged. In these cases, it is also important that you visit your nearest Garda station to request that they take details of the accident and to take your statement about the accident.

    For more serious road traffic accidents*, where an ambulance has been called, the Gardaí may arrive at the scene to assess, take statements from the people involved and any witnesses.

  4. Contact your insurance company

    If you are the driver of the vehicle involved in a road traffic accident* it is important to inform your own insurance company so they have a record.

  5. Speak to a road traffic accident solicitor*

    If you are considering moving forward with a road traffic accident claim* for any personal injuries sustained it is advisable that you speak with a road traffic accident claims solicitor* as soon as possible. If you are proceeding with a claim, the first step will be submitting your claim to the Injuries Board for assessment. A road traffic accident solicitor* can help you in preparing your application to the Injuries Board and ensure that you follow the process in the correct format, meaning that you can move forward with your claim quickly without unnecessary delays.

    It is important to remember to keep copies of any expenses that you have incurred as a result of the accident. It is also imperative to retain copies of medical reports or Garda reports, where possible as you will need them when making a claim.

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How do I make a claim?

Once you have gathered all the relevant information in relation to your injury it is then time to move forward with your claim. It is important to use a specialist road traffic accident* solicitor to help you with this.

  1. Prepare information for a solicitor

    When you decide you want to move forward with your road traffic accident claim* it is important to have all the relevant information to hand when contacting a solicitor. Important information to have on hand at this point is:

    • Date of the accident
    • Location of the accident
    • Details of the party at fault – including their name, address, contact information, vehicle registration number, insurance information. If the other party left the scene and you were unable to get their details – don’t worry there are still options for you to pursue a case
    • If any emergency services attended the scene, and their details
    • Specifics of what happened
    • Details of your injuries
    • Any pictures you may have taken of the scene of the accident and/or your injuries
    • Details of any witnesses
    • If there may be CCTV in the area that may have caught the accident on tape
    • Hospitals/Doctors attended with your injury
  2. Solicitor becomes your trusted advisor

    As a solicitor is aware of the road traffic accident claim* process they can avoid any legal bumps in the road you might encounter if you did this yourself. It is their job to be your trusted advisor on all legal matters throughout your case.

  3. Solicitor obtains a medical report

    One of the most important document in your case is a medical report. Your solicitor will ask for your doctor’s or Hospital details so he can obtain a report on your injuries. This report will then be used to allow us progress your case.

  4. Solicitor prepares the Injuries Board application

    As soon as your solicitor has gathered all the information, your road traffic accident claim* will be submitted to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board for assessment. You solicitor will do this for you. Once the Injuries Board assess your claim your solicitor will revert with a suggested settlement amount. At this stage you have a choice to accept the Injuries Board assessment or reject it and move the next steps.

    At this point one of two scenarios will unfold:

    a. If both you and the party at fault accept the Injuries Board assessment, your case is settled and the person at fault will be ordered to pay settlement to you.

    b. If either you or the person at fault reject the Injuries Board assessment, then you move to the next stage and your solicitor will issue legal proceedings.

  5. Possible case outcomes

    Before you start to concern yourself with court and everything that comes with it, it’s important to understand that only a very small percentage of cases actually make it to a courtroom.

    Settlement meetings will be arranged where a settlement can be negotiated. Most cases are settled at this point without ever having to step foot into a courtroom and remember it’s your solicitor’s job to be with you every step of the way, right beside you to ensure that your best interests are met at all stages. Your solicitor is to be your trusted advisor throughout the process and to let you focus of your recovery, as they focus on settling your case.

At Tracey’s we make law accessible to all — regardless of your knowledge or experience with the claims process. For more information and a confidential discussion on your road traffic accident, phone 01 649 9900 where you can speak with a member of our team straight away, or email ask@traceysolicitors.ie to tell us about your case.

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Case Settlement

A defendant is only entitled to make a claim in a fatal accident claim* if they have suffered financial loss or mental distress as a result of the death of a loved one. The legislation permits a claim to be brought under three headings:

Financial Losses

A person who was financially dependent on the deceased may suffer financial losses in the event of their death. For example, the surviving spouse and immediate family. The onus is on the person making the fatal accident claim to prove the financial loss that they and each dependent suffered. They do this by proving how much they would have received had the deceased lived, this may involve actuarial calculations.

Funeral Expenses

Funeral expenses can include the usual costs of burial/cremation and a headstone. Other expenses that can be included are the costs of acknowledgement cards, travelling expenses etc.

Mental Distress

The amount awarded to dependents of a deceased person for mental stress following a fatal accident is known as solatium. The maximum amount of fatal injury compensation for this aspect is €35,000. The solatium claimed is intended as an acknowledgement of grief rather than any attempt at compensation for it. To this figure would be added financial dependency loss into the future.

While this may help relieve the financial burden in the short term, it will never replace a loved one. We understand that this is a very difficult time. We are here to help you move through the fatal accident claim process with ease. Should you wish to discuss, feel free to contact our office for further information on making a claim*.

What are the Legal Time Limits?

The statute of limitations are the legal time limits on how long you have to make a claim — these vary depending on the situation. The general rule for most personal injury cases* is that the person has two years from the date of the accident or date of knowledge of the accident* to make a claim for compensation. Contacting a solicitor to discuss your case will help you in determining how long you have left to make a claim.

Learn more about Time Limits

About Tracey Solicitors

We draw on more than 30 years of experience in personal injury law to provide you with expert advice and legal services.

We’re here to help you with your claim, and will work with you to ensure you understand every step of your legal journey.

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