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Fatal accident claims

The loss of a loved one is never easy. But when their death is early, sudden and likely the result of someone else’s negligence it is understandably devastating.

What can cause even more anguish are the questions that follow.

What actually happened? - How did it happen? - Why did it happen? - Whose fault was it? - Why them? - Who else has been affected? - Why does no one answer me? - How can I make it right?

No matter how it happened, whether a fatal car accident, during the course of someone’s work, in Scotland or abroad or in other circumstances, we know you’ll have many questions.

Some of these we can answer, others we can try and find an answer to. But more importantly, Digby Brown can hold those responsible to account, helping get you the answers you deserve.

What else?

Most people understandably don’t know that a fatal accident is treated as a civil compensation claim and although there may be a criminal prosecution or a fatal accident inquiry (FAI), a civil claim provides the pathway to access legal help if utilised properly – and independently – investigate all the circumstances surrounding the incident. 

Why should I pursue a claim?  

Everyone’s circumstances are different and we understand everyone will have different reasons for considering getting in touch with a solicitor before even considering the prospect of claiming fatal accident compensation.

We understand this isn’t about money, it is about seeking legal representation and finding answers. However, for many people losing a loved one results in a lack of financial security, especially if the family depended on them to help keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.

Ultimately, we help people secure compensation, and while the outcome might be financial in nature, it is the process itself that helps secure the answers many people need to help with closure.

Who can make a fatal injury claim?

The law in Scotland is clear about who is eligible to make a claim for the loss of a family member:

  • A cohabitee, spouse or civil partner
  • Parents, including step-parents
  • Children including step-children
  • Brothers and sisters including step-siblings
  • Grandparents and grandchildren including step-grandparents/grandchildren

The law is also clear that once the claims process is completed then the matter is concluded, so any family member who did not take part in the initial civil action cannot attempt their own later at a later date. However, it is the responsibility of the solicitor to try and find all family members and ask if they wish to engage with the process.

No win, no fee personal injury solicitors

The expression “No win, no fee” is often used in personal injury cases.  It is used as a way of funding a compensation claim where the accident victim does not have the means to pay for the costs involved as the case progresses. 

A number of solicitors are prepared to handle personal injury cases on a “No Win – No Fee” basis but very few are able to offer their clients complete protection if the case is unsuccessful. 

In that event, the client could end up being liable for many thousands of pounds in legal expenses or the case won't be fully investigated and therefore likely to under-settle.

Compensate 'no win, no fee' funding

Digby Brown has its own funding company, Compensate, which provides the funding to allow the case to be fully investigated, employ the best experts surrounding the circumstances of the accident and/or injuries sustained and where and if necessary go to court.

If for whatever reason the case is unsuccessful, Compensate pays all your legal expenses and those of your opponent – you pay nothing

On average our clients receive over 3 times the pre-litigation offer

Because of Compensate funding Digby Brown's success rate is extremely high and on average our clients receive three times the pre-litigation offer.

In the event the case is successful, a small percentage of your damages will be deducted with VAT to pay for this service. The percentage which Compensate will charge depends on the degree of risk involved. We believe that this is the fairest method of giving clients access to justice whilst ensuring their cases are fully investigated, prepared and funded.

Don’t take our word for it, just read many of the court decisions and case studies on our website.

Beware of compensation offers which may be too good

We know you will have seen many adverts offering 100% compensation or telling you that you will not lose any of your compensation, however we believe there are a number of problems with companies that do this.

  • How do they make their money if they don’t charge you anything?
  • If they aren’t taking any money from you, the client, what incentive do they have to ensure you receive the right level of compensation, appropriate to the injuries you have sustained?
  • Fully preparing a case, finding out exactly what happened and what the consequences of your injuries may mean in the long term, is expensive, how do they do this properly?
  • If they aren’t fully preparing these cases will they just accept the first offer they are given on your behalf by the Insurance company?
  • It makes simple business sense, the less work they do the higher their profit margin is - they simply have no incentive to work harder on your behalf.
  • These adverts in the main are from English firms on national television which operates in a different way and therefore wouldn’t apply to a Scottish person.

We know from the many client cases we mandate from other firms of solicitors (in the main at the request of the client who is extremely unsatisfied with the service received for the other firm) that many shortcuts are taken in preparation and that the first offer received is being recommended for acceptance, regardless of the value. 

Getting something for nothing is usually the first sign of poor service.

Correct level of compensation with Digby Brown

Our experience and statistics show time and time again we will achieve the correct level of compensation which will be substantially more than the insurer is initially prepared to offer.

Even after we have deducted our percentage as a success fee you will gain considerably more than you would have achieved using a 100% compensation model.

Contact Digby Brown's personal injury solicitors

We have offices across Scotland in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Kirkcaldy, Inverness, Aberdeen and Ayr.

For further information about no win, no fee, or anything else, call us on 0333 200 5925 or fill in our enquiry form below and someone will get back in touch with you.

How long have I got to seek help?

The usual rule is that Court proceedings must be started within three years from the date of the incident/accident, this is referred to as the time bar. However, there are a few circumstances where the time bar may differ:

  • Accidents that occur abroad - there are different time limitations that govern different countries, therefore it is important for you to seek help as soon as you are able to. 
  • Accidents at sea - International maritime law differs from Scots Law, therefore the time bar limitations are different. 
  • When a child is involved - if a child under 16 was involved in a fatal accident, you can claim compensation at any point until they turn 19, regardless of what year they were injured.
  • Statements – the first thing we will do is simply talk to you.  Find out if we can help and then find out what happened.  In due course, we will need to take statements from all the family members who wish to make a claim to build a picture of their relationship with the deceased party.
  • Funding the case – Digby Brown uses a funding model called Compensate. We will explain in detail how this works when we talk to you. In brief, Compensate pays for all the costs associated with the case: all the investigations, expert witnesses, your solicitor’s time – everything.
  • Intimating the claim – Once we’ve established what has happened and who we believe to be at fault we inform the other side (usually an insurance firm representing the defending party) that we are intimating a claim on your behalf. This starts the process of dialogue between both sides.
  • Investigating the incident – We will obtain the required incident reports which may be from the police, employers, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and other relevant bodies. We will also gather witness statements and other key data pertinent to the circumstances of the accident. We will consult with relevant bodies to fully understand the incident.  We need to understand what happened, what went wrong and why.  From this, we can produce the evidence which identifies who was at fault and therefore to blame.
  • Calculating losses – We gather evidence of the financial losses your family faces as a result of the loss of your loved one such as lost earnings, lost pension or lost services (such as if the deceased regularly helped you or other family members with things like chores or tasks). If you have suffered the loss of a spouse then maybe you’ve had to give up your job to look after children so this will also be taken into account.
  • Agreement on liability – We discuss whether the other side accepts fault.
  • Agreement on quantum (the amount of damages sought) – We discuss whether the insurer accepts our valuation of the damages.
  • Settlement – If liability and quantum are agreed then the case is settled. If an agreement cannot be reached on either point then we may consider taking the case to court. However, this is rare as most cases settle out of court, even if court action is raised.

Supporting you beyond fatal accident claims

Criminal trials

It is not uncommon for criminal proceedings to be ongoing at the same time you might be considering a fatal injury claim. For example, if your loved one died in a car crash and the driver of the other vehicle was charged and is still waiting to go to court. However, it’s important to note that a civil case and a criminal case are two different things. They have different processes, relate to different laws and regulations and require different burdens of proof.

Our fatal accident solicitors can investigate the circumstances of the accident independently and their expertise and reputation is so formidable that in many cases your family may actually secure a settlement without the need to wait for the outcome of a criminal trial.

An important to note is that you do not need to wait for a criminal trial to be finished before you come to us for help and you can still make a claim even if the negligent party was not convicted.

 

Fatal Accident Inquiries (FAIs)

Sometimes fatal accidents can be so serious it has wider implications for public safety. In these circumstances, the authorities might decide to conduct a fatal accident inquiry (FAI). These hearings are not designed to attribute blame but rather to identify failings or faults in a system of work. After hearing evidence during the FAI a judge or sheriff may then make recommendations to improve safety standards or working processes to prevent future incidents.

If your fatal accident compensation claim is linked to an incident at the centre of an FAI then Digby Brown will support you through this. We will provide expert, background guidance to help you understand the process and what it means for you and your case (if it hasn’t already been settled). 

 

Managing the media

The significant nature of fatal accidents often results in wanted and unwanted media attention. We know dealing with journalists can be difficult – especially at an already-difficult time, therefore, we offer specialist media management advice to clients completely free so you can concentrate on things that really matter.

There is no blanket policy on media engagement and there is no right or wrong way to do things. Some clients wish to actively engage with media in the hope of raising awareness or inspiring change, while others prefer to have their privacy respected. Whatever your preference is, we can help devise media strategies to suit your individual needs.

You have a right to speak, a right to privacy and a right to choose – we just want to make sure you retain control and can make a choice on your terms and not on the terms of journalists and media outlets.

Some firms will jump on any news opportunity to promote themselves regardless of what it means for clients. Digby Brown does not do this - your welfare and the integrity of your case come first, we never make media decisions without consulting you and we never speak on your behalf without prior consent.

Why choose Digby Brown to help with fatal accident claims?

Digby Brown has been top-ranked for personal injury work by the two biggest legal directories in the world –  we have been top ranked in Chambers for the last eighteen years and top ranked by Legal 500 for the last fourteen. They deliver independent guidance and reviews to the public on who provides the best legal service.

Digby Brown has also been awarded Law Firm of the Year in Scotland for five out of the last seven years (2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2022). We have also received five top Community Contribution awards in the last six years. On top of this Digby Brown is one of the most reviewed and highest-rated legal firms in Scotland on Trustpilot.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) is the UK’s leading body of personal injury solicitors. It gives people access to information on which lawyer or firm will offer the best service. APIL accredits nearly 50 personal injury lawyers in Scotland and around half of all of these work at Digby Brown.

We have the expertise, resources, industry recognition and public trust to settle even the most complex of cases. We will always act in your interests, be on hand to guide you using our extensive legal experience and help you in any we can with the many other challenges of dealing with the loss of a loved one. We are always sorry to hear about a tragic loss but we are always here to help if it does happen.

What is the next step?

We know this is a difficult time for you and we want to make it as simple as possible for you to seek help.

Simply get in touch with us for help and advice, whether you feel more comfortable over the phone or filling in an enquiry form, that’s your preference.

In these circumstances, if we know you are enquiring about a sudden death then we will immediately ask one of our Partners to get in touch. We know how difficult this is and how much this matters.

What our clients say about us

We put our clients at the centre of everything we do and are committed to providing the very best service. The hundreds of five star reviews we have received on Trustpilot is a reflection of this approach.

Rated Excellent
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