Fatal Injury Claims

If your loved one’s death was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be able to claim compensation on their behalf and their dependants.

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Guiding you through all aspects of fatal injury claims

No amount of money can ever make up for your loss of a loved one, our job though is to support you through the significant challenges that you and your family now face.  We are on-hand to provide sensitive support and guidance to help you deal with the practical, emotional, and financial burdens.  

Depending on the circumstances of the death, several official bodies may be involved in investigating how it happened, such as the police, Health & Safety Executive, and the coroner.  We can help by liaising with police or attending a Coroner’s inquest, especially if the exact circumstances of your loved one’s death are unclear. 

As well as assisting you with making a claim for compensation, we will be with you throughout the whole process, providing support advice and information at this incredibly difficult time.

Our fatal injury team has significant, proven experience supporting people who have lost someone unexpectedly.  This may be in a road traffic collision, an incident at work or following medical negligence.

We recognise the challenges that our clients, and their families, face after a fatal injury.  With this in mind, we always strive to help those left behind to rebuild their lives. 

At Higgs LLP we prioritise securing early interim payments wherever possible and have an in-house client support manager, who can help support you with a wide range of social needs.  We also offer ‘no win no fee’ agreements to fund your claim, which means that there is no financial risk to you if you lose.

Start your fatal injury claim

Do I have a fatal injury claim?

To establish a fatal injury claim, you must prove that the incident or circumstances of the death was caused by someone else’s negligence.  The person responsible may be an individual or an organisation, such as an employer.  Each case is individual and the information that is available from a body that is investigating, such as the police or the health and safety executive, will often be key. We will consider all of this when advising if the fatal injury claim has reasonable prospects of success.

How do I claim?

All claims start by sending a letter of claim to the party you hold responsible for the death, or to their insurer if this is known. The letter of claim provides for some initial information about the known circumstances of the death, the reasons why they are being held at fault, and an outline of the likely heads of loss. It is designed to allow that party to be able to investigate liability and decide whether they accept responsibility. For an injury claim, the time limit for a reply is 3 months after the letter has been acknowledged, and in a medical negligence matter the time is 4 months.

How our solicitors can help?

Our solicitors are specialists in fatal injury claims. They understand how stressful it can be to make a legal claim.

We work to secure the best overall outcome for you and your family.  We always put you at the centre of everything we do.

As we are a broad-based practice we can provide holistic support and work with our colleagues in other legal disciplines to support your case, if needed.  It means you will benefit from a seamless, one-team approach.  You are in safe hands.

We are:

  • One of three law firms selected by The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham to support patients at the hospital as part of the 4 Trauma 4 Patients support service
  • One of three firms selected by the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire operated by Cardinal Management to support patients as part of the Major Trauma Signposting project
  • One of three firms selected by the Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital operated by Cardinal Management to support patients as part of the Major Trauma Signposting project
  • Accredited members of Headway’s Head Injury Solicitors Directory
  • Spinal Injuries Association trusted legal partner for the West Midlands
  • Serious Injury Guide signatories
  • Members of:
    • The Motor Accident Solicitors Society
    • Association of Personal Injury Lawyers
    • Birmingham Law Society
    • Approved Law Society Personal Injury Panel and Law Society Clinical Negligence Panel
    • Approved by Association for Victims of Medical Accidents
    • Recognised in Chambers and Partners Directory
    • Recommended by the Legal 500 as leading personal injury and clinical negligence lawyers.

How long will it take to claim?

This will vary; however, some fatal accident claims can take a few years to conclude.  If there are any dependant children, any compensation award we secure will also need to be approved by a court.  This is to ensure that it is sufficient and that it is apportioned appropriately.

How do I fund a fatal accident claim?

When you speak with us, we will advise you on the best way to fund the claim. It may be that there is existing legal expenses cover however, if not, we can help fund your claim with a ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement, if we think that your claim has sufficient prospects of succeeding.  This means that if the claim is unsuccessful, you pay nothing.

Can I get an interim payment?

Interim payments are another way in which we can support people who have lost a loved one, especially if they were the main earner in a household, as this can have a significant impact on the finances of those left behind.  When an insurer is engaged, we may be able to secure early interim payments for clients. 

What evidence do I need to support a fatal injury claim?

In a fatal injury claim, the burden of proof rests with those making the claim. This means that even if a party accepts responsibility for causing the fatal injury, then the claimant must still prove the extent of the losses caused by the fatal incident.

If there are people who were dependant on the deceased, then the evidence will focus on what support they provided in financial terms or otherwise, and how long this was reasonably expected to continue. This will be a mixture of documentary evidence and witness statements.  Expert medical evidence may also be necessary if the lifespan of the deceased or a dependant is an issue.

How is a fatal injury claim settled?

When we have all the evidence needed to support a fatal injury claim, we will enter negotiations with the opponent. This could be by an exchange of settlement offers however, in higher value claims this may be done in a face-to-face meeting with the other party’s lawyers. In these cases, we will also involve a specialist injury barrister to assist in the meeting and, if a settlement is not agreed, the same barrister will help prepare and present you case at trial.

Our accreditations

Head Injury Solicitor 2024
SIA Trusted Partner
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"The focus seems to be on catastrophic injury, seeing clients from the very earliest stages and supporting them through their rehabilitation journey"

Legal 500

"Andy Shaw is ambitious for the firm, but principally for his clients, bringing an unflappable nature, but with true empathy. He is as good as any personal injury lawyer in the country"

Legal 500

"They are really carving out a reputation as leading personal injury lawyers"

Chambers and Partners

What is a fatal claim worth?

To assess the value of the fatal injury claim, we need to know whether anyone is entitled to a bereavement damages award. Who can claim is set out in the Fatal Accidents Act 1974. The current level of this award is £15,120 and it can only be claimed by one person, even if there are a few possible claimants.  It is also possible to recover the cost of the funeral, where this is paid out of the estate or a dependant.

Aside from these elements, there may be a claim for what is termed a loss of dependency. In many cases, this can be a substantial claim.  Again, the Fatal Accidents Act lists who may be a potential dependant; this list is a wider class of people than those who may be entitled to the bereavement award. However, whether someone is a dependant will be based on the facts and is not limited to financial dependency.  It can also include a dependency on the deceased’s services, for example, providing help with household chores.  We will need to fully understand the nature of any dependency claim before being about to advise on the likely award.

In a fatal injury claim it may be reasonable to assume that the deceased and the dependants had a normal life expectancy.  However, in cases where this is not the case, we will need to obtain a medical expert's opinion on the expected lifespan. 

If your loved one survived the initial incident which caused their initial injuries, before they died, then the law also allows an award of compensation for their pain and suffering.  This will vary from case to case.  Below is a guide to the current brackets of awards:

  • Severe burns and lung damage followed by a short period of full awareness and then fluctuating consciousness for four to five weeks, coupled with intrusive treatment or significant physical injuries, and death within two weeks to 3 months - £13,750 to £25,000
  • Severe burns and lung damage causing excruciating pain, followed by unconsciousness after 3 hours and death within two weeks - £11,500 to £11,750
  • Immediate unconsciousness after injury and death within six weeks - £4,000 to £4,750
  • Unconsciousness immediately or very shortly after injury, and death within a week. If the victim is initially conscious and dies the same day, awards are lower in the bracket - £1,500 to £3,000
  • Fear of impending death or a reduction of life. For the parent of young children suffering this mental anguish for around 3 months - £5,000

"They seem to go over and above for the client and are much easier to contact and deal with compared to most other legal firms. Steve Santy and Andy Shaw – both are extremely approachable and knowledgeable within their industry field"

Legal 500

"Andy Shaw and Steve Santy lead the team by example. It is obvious how client and rehabilitation focussed they are and that seems to permeate down through the team"

Legal 500

"Higgs is a well-known Black Country firm that frequently acts on severe and fatal personal injury cases. The firm is noted for its expert handling of head injury claims, burns and spinal cases, including those arising from RTAs, accidents at work and trips"

Chambers and Partners

Interim payments

Interim payments are another way in which we can support people with a catastrophic injury.  A catastrophic injury will often have a significant impact on someone’s ability to work.  This may only be whilst they are receiving treatment and rehabilitation however, some people may never be able to return to their work or may have to take up different work which pays less.

It is therefore unsurprising that many people with a catastrophic injury will have financial needs.  When an insurer is engaged, we are often able to secure significant, early interim payments for clients.  In some instances, an insurer does not cooperate, so we advise clients on the option of applying to the court for an order.

Negotiate a settlement

When we have all the evidence needed to support a catastrophic injury claim, we will enter negotiations with the insurer.  This could be by an exchange of settlement offers however, on more significant injury cases this may be done in a face-to-face meeting with the other party’s lawyers.  In these cases, we will also involve a specialist catastrophic injury barrister to assist in these meetings and, if a settlement is not agreed, the same barrister will help prepare and present your case at trial.

Why choose us as your fatal injury lawyers

Our highly specialised fatal injury law team is made up of approachable, friendly lawyers who will guide you and your family through the process of pursuing a fatal injury claim.

Each member of our team shares a passion for putting clients and their families at the heart of everything we do. 

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Fatal injury support organisations


Cruse Bereavement Care offers support to you after the death of someone close. If someone you know has died and you need to talk they can offer support, counselling and guidance. Face-to-face and group support is delivered by trained bereavement support volunteers across the UK. They also offer information, publications, and support for children. http://www.cruse.org.uk/


Brake is a road safety charity working with communities and organisations across the UK to stop the tragedy of road deaths and injuries, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and support people bereaved and seriously injured on roads. Brake is a UK-wide provider of support services to people bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes and their carers. They do this through support guides available online and provided via police and other professionals and through an accredited helpline run by experienced professionals. They offer emotional support, practical information, advocacy and signposting. http://www.brake.org.uk/

Road Peace

Road peace are the only member based charity for road crash victims in the UK, and the only one with local groups. They provide both support for existing victims. Support services for road crash victims,  Emotional support including a national helpline for road crash victims, and a befriending network and our Resilience Building support programmes. http://www.roadpeace.org/


When we first come and see you, we will need to know that details of the incident that caused the fatal injury.  As well as taking details of what happened, we will also want to know if there is any other evidence of what happened.  This will vary from case to case but may include any photos or CCTV of the incident, and whether you have the details of any witnesses.  In a medical negligence claim, the medical records will need to be reviewed, as these are key evidence, and we will need your authority to obtain copies of them. 

Depending on how the injury happened, there may be other bodies investigating the incident for regulatory or criminal investigation purposes.  For example, the police should attend all fatal road collisions and release a copy of any their report once the criminal process is completed.  In workplace accidents, there may also be inquiries by the Health and Safety Executive or the Local Authority, depending on which body oversees that workplace.  Whilst their investigations may lead to criminal proceedings, their reports can also contain important evidence to help establish what happened and help establish if there are prospects of proving that someone should take legal responsibility to pay fatal injury compensation.

If we cannot reach a settlement, either because liability or the value of the fatal injury claim is not agreed, we will advise you to start court proceedings.  We will prepare the necessary court documents and start the court proceedings.

Just because court proceedings are begun, it does not mean that the claim will necessarily have to be decided in a trial.  In many instances, the parties will continue to engage in negotiations to settle however, in other matters the claim can only be settled by a judge at trial.

This means that the court process is about making sure that you and the other side get the matter ready, in a timely fashion, to be heard and decided by a judge.  This will include you disclosing all documents which are relevant to the claim, such as medical records and documents to prove a loss of dependency.  You and all your witnesses will also have to give a witness statement, which are then exchanged simultaneously with the other party’s witness statements.  There will also be a timetable for the parties to update and complete their expert evidence, with the experts possibly meeting with each other to set out areas of their medical opinions where the agree and, where they disagree the reasons why.  Often the parties are also able to update a document which sets out what they think the claim is worth, and why.

Whether a fatal injury claim is settled in or out of court, our clients often still need support. 

As a full-service law firm, we can provide a holistic service to our clients if they have any other legal needs.  Also, for clients who receive a significant sum of compensation, especially if it is intended to cover ongoing or future costs, will often need independent financial advice.  We can refer them to specialist independent financial advisers who understand the requirements of fatal injury claimants.

Meet the fatal injury team