Death Accident Claim: The amount of time you have to claim compensation for wrongful death in the UK
Find out how long you have to start a death accident claim for compensation following a fatal accident, industrial exposure, medical negligence or criminal injury. See with how the time period can vary in different circumstances when the deceased survives an accident, was a child, under a mental disability, occurred on an aircraft or was as a result of a crime of violence.
What is a death accident claim?
A death accident claim is commonly referred to as a fatal accident claim. See our fatal accident claim for a detailed description of what it entails.
How long do you have to make a death accident claim?
If you have suffered a personal injury the time period to make a claim is three years form the date of the accident or the date of knowledge that the accident has caused an injury.
Click motor vehicle accident to see exceptions to the three year rule (using a road traffic accident as an example)..
Although the three year rule in principle applies to accidents that cause death instantly there are some different scenarios to consider which will vary this rule:
1. The accident did not cause immediate death to the victim who survived less than 3 years before death
If an accident caused the victim to survive a period of time before dying – the three year time period will run not from the date of the accident, but from the date of the victim’s death.
If one of the relatives is under 18 years in England & Wales (the legal age of adulthood is different in Scotland) the law considers him a child who will typically have until his 21st birthday to make a claim (3 years from the date of majority – 18 years of age).
If there is a claim for a child, but the three year period from death has expired for an adult – the court might be more willing to exercise its discretion to extend the adult’s time period to claim.
2. The accident did not cause immediate death to the victim who survived more than 3 years before death
If the deceased knew when alive that he had suffered an injury, but did not commence a claim – his relatives are out of time to make a death accident claim too.
This is different if the deceased was a child as the three year period to make a claim only commences from a child’s 18th birthday, so in theory so long as the child dies before his 21st birthday (no matter how long after the accident) the relatives would still have three years from the date of his death to claim compensation (although this can vary in the different legal jurisdictions that make up the UK).
Click child accident to see the time periods for children to make a personal injury claim.
3. If the deceased had a mental disability
If a person is under a recognized mental disability – the limitation period does not commence until the person is no longer under a disability so once again in these instances there might be a longer time period to make a claim.
4. Industrial disease and medical negligence death accident claims
In these types of personal injury claims – the deceased may not have been aware of his symptoms being connected to a negligent act until many years after an accident. In such cases the relatives may have three years to claim following death – no matter how long after the original accident death occurred.
Once again an asbestos exposure mesothelioma claim is a typical example.
5. Death accident claim on ships and aircraft
The time period for an accident – including death – on an aircraft or ship is typically two years, but it depends on how the accident happened and the exact description of the vessel that the accident occurred on.
6. A criminal act has caused the death
If a claim is made against the individual who caused the accident direct – the same rules apply as in other fatal accident claims. If a claim is made to the CICA – there is typically 2 years from the date of the criminal incident which caused the death.
Click criminal injury to see how to claim criminal injury compensation in the UK.
Summary of death accident claim page
You have seen on this page how long you have to make a death accident claim and how the time period various depending on the age and mental infirmity of the would be claimants.
Click fatal death accident claims solicitor to see how to choose and fund a specialist solicitor’s legal costs in making your death accident claim.