Back to post

Fatal Injuries* – What happens to those left behind?

Posted in [Resources] on Monday, March 15th, 2021

Fatal injury actions are claims where a person has died as the result of a wrongful act of another person or institution and the dependants of that person take legal proceedings against the wrongdoer.

Part IV of the Civil Liability Act 1961 as amended governs the type of action, who can take such an action and the compensation that can be awarded in such claims.

Who can take a claim?
The dependants of a deceased person can make a civil claim for compensation due to the wrongful death of their loved one.

A Dependant is defined as:-

  • Spouse
  • Stepchildren
  • Parents
  • Grandchildren
  • Sisters
  • Half sister
  • Separated Spouse
  • Cohabitee
  • Children
  • Stepparents
  • Grandparents
  • Brothers
  • Half brother
  • Civil partner
  • Divorced spouse


(*A cohabitee is someone who is not married to the deceased but who until the date of deceased’s death had been living with the deceased as husband or wife for a continuous period of not less than three years).

Who takes the case?
Within the first six months after the death only the personal representative of the deceased is entitled to bring a case for fatal injuries.  If after six months from the date of death there is no personal representative, all or any of the dependants are entitled to bring the action.

In practice one person, usually being the spouse, parent or immediate next of kin of the deceased would bring the action for and on behalf of themselves and all the other dependants.

Details of all the deceased’s dependants must be set out in the Application Form for the Injuries Board and/or the Personal Injury Summons.

A former spouse who is divorced from the deceased is included in the category of dependants however they do have to show that they have suffered financial loss as a result of the death in order to be included in the award.  They are not permitted to recover compensation for mental distress.

(1)    Mental Distress
The Irish State has capped the amount of money that can be awarded for mental distress, upset, pain and suffering as a result of the death of a loved one.  This was recently increased to €35,000.00 from the 11th January 2014.

It is important to note that this €35,000.00 is not per dependant, it is to be divided between the dependants.

(2)    Financial Loss
The other head of damage that may be claimed is financial loss. The usual categories of special damages in a fatal case are as follows:-

  • Funeral expenses
  • Probate expenses
  • Loss of earnings
  • Loss of pension
  • Loss of services such as DIY, home repairs, childcare, use of company car or any other service or benefit that the deceased provided that can be measured in monetary terms.

Post traumatic stress/nervous shock/abnormal grief reactions
In the event that a dependant has suffered nervous shock or an abnormal grief reaction due to the negligent nature of the deceased’s death it may be possible to take a separate and independent personal injuries action for that dependant.

We know that a loved one cannot be replaced by money and no amount of damages or award can ever compensate for such a loss.  At Cantillons Solicitors we take great care to ensure that thoughtful and clear advice is given to those left behind covering all the options that may be open to the dependants.

Contact us at Cantillons Solicitors at +353 (0)21 -4275673 or if you would like more information.

* In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage of any award or settlement.

Jody Cantillon



Jody is a Partner in our Litigation Department.

Having graduated from University College Cork in 2009, Jody completed his apprenticeship with a top litigation defence firm in Cork City and qualified as a Solicitor in 2014.

Prior to joining Cantillons Solicitors in 2016, Jody worked for a leading Dublin firm, specialising in the area of commercial litigation and dispute resolution. There he gained valuable experience in defending and prosecuting high end, large scale commercial disputes before the Commercial Court.

How can we help?

We are always happy to accommodate you at a time and place that best suits your needs.

We have Solicitors based in various locations, including Cork, Limerick and Dublin. We can arrange a meeting at a location that is suitable to you.

If you would like to speak to a member of our team outside of office hours then please contact us using the form below. We are happy to accommodate a virtual consultation, via Zoom or otherwise also.

If you have a query send us a message…

    Website by Doodle