Claim Answers: Is it possible for family members to obtain compensation for a wrongful death?

Is it possible for family to obtain compensation for a wrongful death?
Eoin P. Campbell
Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor
Editor in Chief

Question: My brother was killed when a car broke a red light and collided with his car. Is it possible for family members to obtain compensation for a wrongful death? My family seems to be somewhat unwilling to pursue a case.

Answer: A death in the family is always a terrible thing to have to cope with, but when that death is due to the negligence of somebody else, it can be much harder to bear.

You didn’t say if your brother had direct dependents such as a wife or children or if he was financially supporting other members of the family (for example, helping his aged parents or supporting a relation’s studies). Your own grief and loss can be compounded by family concerns over future financial security and, although no amount of money will ever bring a loved one back, certain members of your family may be entitled to compensation for loss of financial support. As a next-of-kin, you are certainly entitled to make a wrongful death compensation claim on your own, although it would be better if everyone affected acted together.

The amount of compensation in wrongful death cases varies considerably. While the circumstances of your brother’s death may appear to you to be clear, you do still need to legally establish negligence. Your solicitor will advise you regarding negligence and who is potentially liable. In most personal injury cases, the pain and suffering suffered by the victim is normally a major element in the calculation of the compensation amount. However, in the case of wrongful death, the loss of future earnings can often be the most significant element in the calculation.

You solicitor will therefore need to know as many details as possible about the victim’s relationship with his family and the victim’s current and likely future earnings.

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