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Fatal Accidents Act of 1976

The Fatal Accidents Act of 1976 is the relevant legislation which enables the family members of deceased victims killed in fatal accidents through fault of another party,  to recover damages. The Act primarily applies to Wales and England.                   


The Fatal Accident Act of 1846 has allowed the family members or the close relatives of the deceased person to claim for the damages incurred to them including financial, physical or psychological for the first time. Nevertheless, the Fatal Accident Act of 1976 modernised the procedure of claiming for fatal accidents and retracted the earlier legislation.  

The Fatal Accidents Act of 1976

The Fatal Accident Act of 1976 permits claims under three different heads, they are:

  • Dependency claim: A dependency claim is a claim for the financial loss suffered. The  class of dependants is restricted and defined in the act.
  • Bereavement claim: The bereavement claim is a claim in recognition of the grief by the further limited class of the dependants. This is an award fixed by the statute at £ 11,800
  • Funeral expenses paid by the dependant

Some of the other aspects covered in the Fatal Accident Act of 1976 include: 

 (1) Claim for the damages of the bereavement must only be for the advantage of:

·                                 The wife or the husband of the deceased

·                                 The parent of a unmarried deceased minor

(i) Of his parents/ guardians, only if he was legitimate
(ii) Of his mother, in case if the victim was illegitimate    

(2) Where there is the claim for the damages under the 1976 act for the advantage of both the guardians/ parents of the deceased, the amount awarded must be distributed equally among all (subject to any sort of deduction falling to be made in respect of the costs not recuperated from defendant). 

According to the act of 1976 the dependant must have suffered some financial loss as a result of the death of the deceased.


Mrs B was crossing a pedestrian crossing pushing her grandson in a baby buggy when she was knocked to the ground by a car driven by the defendant. The accident caused a complex fracture to her right foot.   Liability was denied as both parties claimed the lights were in their favour. At trial Cooks were successful in proving Mrs B’s case and she was awarded £90,000.00.
"I would like to thank you and all your staff for your courtesy and professionalism in what has been a very distressing time for us all..."
Mrs B from London