Fatal Injury Actions / Wrongful Death

Synnott Lawline - Fatal Injury Claims

A fatal injury action is a legal action taken where a person dies as a result of the wrongful or negligent act of another. A fatal injury action can arise out of a wrongful accident e.g. a road traffic accident, medical negligence or an occupational injury (accident at work).

As of January 2014 the maximum amount that can be awarded for mental distress, to the dependants of the deceased, has been increased from €25,394.76 up to €35,000.  This figure is not in any way intended to compensate the dependants for the loss of a family member but is recognition of the hardship and heartbreak endured by loved ones. It must be remembered that this is only one of the heads of damages under which a dependant can claim. 

Damages include:

• Financial loss
• Funeral and other expenses actually incurred
• Mental distress/Solatium (capped at €35,000)

Financial loss can be claimed for any dependant that was financially dependent on the deceased. This head of damages is usually sought by the wife/husband and children of the deceased. It is up to the person bringing the claim to prove pecuniary damages for each dependant. It will be necessary to show what each dependant could reasonably have expected to receive from the deceased had they lived.

Funeral and other expenses actually incurred are very straightforward. It will include the usual expenses associated with a funeral such as the funeral service, headstone, coffin, food and beverages for family and friends after the funeral, travel expenses etc. All expenses incurred as a result of the death of the deceased will be recouped so long as receipts for same can be provided.

It is pecuniary loss which is the most difficult to calculate. Pecuniary loss includes, but is not limited to:

  • Loss of services i.e. where the deceased carried out home repairs or decoration
  • Childcare i.e. where the deceased looked after the children of the family on a full time basis.
  • Financial contributions normally made by the deceased to the dependants
  • Monetary loss in general i.e. salary of the deceased

The above are only a few of the items included in a claim for pecuniary loss. When calculating pecuniary loss the court will take into account the loss actually incurred from the date of death to the date of trial as well as losses into the future.

Under the Civil Liability Amendment Act dependants are set out as follows:

  • Spouse
  • Parent
  • Grandparent
  • Step-parent
  • Child
  • Grandchild
  • Step-child
  • Brother
  • Sister
  • Half brother
  • Half sister
  • Civil partners
  • A person who is not married to the deceased but who, until the date of the deceased’s death, had been living with the deceased as husband and wife for a continuous period of not less than three years.
  • A person to whom the deceased was married but the marriage was dissolved before the date of death of the deceased.

In order to qualify as a dependant the person must have suffered financial loss or mental distress as a result of the death of the deceased.

While there may be many dependants of the deceased it must be remembered that only one person can bring a fatal injury claim on behalf of all of the dependants and it is therefore vitally important to have all details of the statutory dependants before initiating a claim.

A statutory dependant that was not financially dependent on the deceased can waive their rights to be included in the fatal injury action.

The figure of €35,000, if awarded, is to be split between all dependants. As stated earlier, it must be remembered that this is not an attempt to compensate for the loss of a loved one; it is merely an acknowledgement of grief. It should also be noted that there is no cap on the damages that can be recovered for financial loss or funeral & other expenses.

Although the figure allowed for mental distress is very low, it must be distinguished from a separate cause of action that can be brought for nervous shock.This cause of action is not included in the Fatal Injury Summons and instead is a standalone action brought by way of a Personal Injury Summons.

In a fatal injury action only one person can bring the claim on behalf of all dependants; this is not the case where a separate cause of action arises for nervous shock.

The dependants have two years from the date of death within which to bring a fatal injury action, also known as a claim for wrongful death. It is important to note that the two year limit begins on the date of death and NOT when the accident or injury causing the death occurred. Although this may seem like a trivial point to make it must be remembered that a person may be wrongfully injured but not actually pass away on the date the injury was sustained.


Joe was injured in a road traffic accident on the 1st of January 2005. He was taken to hospital for treatment and remained in a coma until January 2007.

If the two year time limit had begun on the date Joe was injured the dependants would now be statute barred from bringing a fatal injury action.

In this case the two years does not begin until he passes away in January 2007, meaning the dependants now have until January 2009 to initiate fatal injury proceedings.

All fatal injury claims must first be sent to the Injuries Board [SEE MORE ON INJURIES BOARD]. The Board will follow the same process as is followed for a personal injury claim.

Synnott Lawline Solicitors are all too aware of how difficult it can be to lose a loved one and the last thing on your mind will be issuing court proceedings. No amount of compensation will ever make up for the loss of a loved one, however, it might be of some reassurance to know that you will be provided with financial stability for the future.

If you have suffered the loss of a family member or loved one due to the wrongful acts of another person then call us today. A member of our dedication team of solicitors will guide you through the process and provide you with all the advice and help you need.

As a family member you may be entitled to a Fatal Injury Claim when a death is caused by the negligent, irresponsible or illegal actions of another person.

The immediate family of the victim may claim compensation for the wrongful death. The family may claim for all financial loss and expenses resulting from the death as well as general damages for the distress of bereavement.
The amount of compensation for fatal injury claims recoverable largely depends on the level of financial dependency on the deceased by the family. For example, where the deceased was the sole bread-winner with a young family then the family may claim a lump sum payment sufficient to provide an income equal to the income which the deceased could reasonably have expected to earn for his life expectancy had he lived.
Synnott Lawline Solicitors have been involved in very substantial fatal injury / wrongful death claims. For further information or advice contact us by locall 1850 20 40 60 or by Email

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If you have a question about a Fatal Injury Accident Claim* contact us on Locall 1850 20 40 60, Tel: 01 453 7890 Email us or tell about your case and start your claim today.

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Personal Injury Claims

We are one of Irelands’ leading Personal Injury Claims Law Firms and have been providing expert legal advice on all types of injury claims for over 30 years. Our team is dedicated to providing our clients with the very best level of service in a friendly and efficient manner for all aspects of injury claims. See our page on personal injuries claims.

Personal Injury Claims
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Legal Fees

There are factors which are taken into account in the assessment of a solicitor’s bill. In addition to the professional fee and miscellaneous charges payable to the solicitor, there will be items of outlay payable to third parties, including government agencies, which must be discharged by you.

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Compensation Guide

This booklet has been produced by Synnott Lawline Solicitors to give our clients an understanding of the personal injury compensation claims process. In some of our correspondence to you during the course of your compensation claim, we will make reference to the relevant sections of this guide by way of explanation of the particular aspect of your claim.

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*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with regulation 8 of the S.I. 518 of 2002.