Unfortunately, many lives are lost each year on our roads due to fatal car accidents. Losing a family member in a car accident can be an traumatic and emotional experience for those left behind. During this difficult time, compensation is available for fatal car accidents, to help families deal with the loss of a loved one.
Read on to find out more about what to do after a family member has been in fatal car crash, and your rights to car accident compensation.
Who is eligible to claim compensation?
You may be eligible for compensation for a family member’s death, if you are:
- The deceased’s spouse or de facto partner
- The deceased’s parents
- The deceased’s siblings (brothers, sisters, half-brothers or half-sisters)
- The deceased’s children
Compensation is not limited to fatal car accidents, but also covers accidents among motorbikes, bicycles, boats, trains, planes or other motor vehicles.
Who was at fault for the fatal car accident?
How much compensation you can receive will depend upon who was at fault for the car accident. There are many different fault scenarios, such as:
The deceased was not at fault
In circumstances where another party was at fault for the accident causing the deceased’s death, you are entitled to receive compensation. The deceased did not have to be a driver, and might have been a passenger or pedestrian.
The deceased was partly at fault
If the deceased was partly at fault for the accident, you are still entitled to receive compensation.
However, the compensation you will receive will be less than you would receive if the deceased were not at fault at all.
By being at fault, this can include circumstances such as:
- Failing to wear a seat belt
- Driving over the speed limit
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
- Driving under the influence of drugs
- Travelling in a car where the deceased were aware the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs
The deceased was fully at fault
Where the deceased was fully at fault for the accident itself, there is usually no compensation available to the remaining family members.
Nobody was at fault (Blameless Accident)
There may be instances where an accident occurs through no fault of anyone, known as a blameless accident. Some examples of blameless accidents include:
- Accidents caused by animals
- Accidents caused by falling trees
- Accidents caused by sudden illness, such as heart attacks or seizures
In these cases, you are still entitled to receive compensation unless the deceased suffered the sudden illness and thus caused the accident.
The deceased was a child
If the deceased was under the age of 16, and a resident of NSW at the time, you may claim compensation on their behalf regardless of who was at fault for the wrongful death.
What can I receive compensation for?
You may be compensated for:
- Medical and hospital expenses prior to the death
- Funeral expenses
- Cremation expenses
- Loss of financial support that the deceased would have provided to their children or other relatives before their death
- Loss of services, such as the care the deceased would have provided to dependant children
- Loss of earnings prior to the death
- Nervous shock – psychological conditions such as severe stress or anxiety resulting from the news of the death, or witnessing the accident
What are the requirements for a compensation claim?
- Report the accident as soon as possible to the police, and ensure you receive an event number
- Obtain the registration number of the motor vehicle that caused the accident
- Find out the CTP insurance company of the motor vehicle that caused the fatal accident
- Keep records of any related expenses such as hospital records, medical expenses, funeral expenses, and other documents and receipts.
In circumstances where you are unable to find the registration number or insurance details of the car, you may ask the police or seek any witnesses for details. In the event that the driver’s details are unable to be obtained, such as during a hit and run, then you are still eligible to claim for compensation under the Nominal Defendant Scheme.
Who pays for my compensation claim?
All car owners in Australia are required to pay Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance.
Therefore, the compensation is paid by the insurer of the driver or owner of the car causing the accident.
Are there time limits in making a compensation claim?
Yes, strict time limits do apply. While it is a difficult time dealing with the loss of a loved one, it is important to ensure you make a claim as soon as possible. This ensures your best chance at securing compensation and financial support for your family in this time of need.