A person died as a result of an accident on someone else’s property and she/he was a ‘visitor’ on this property, then you may be compensated by the ‘occupier’ of the property (on behalf of the deceased and for yourself). You can only claim compensation if you fall within the categories of people which the law allows making a claim on behalf of a deceased person. Generally, you can only recover compensation if the deceased suffered his/her injuries in the immediate 3 years of your claim. But, there are some exceptions i.e. if the deceased suffered his/her injuries more than 3 years ago, (otherwise consulting a solicitor would be the best available option).
The Law Says,
If the deceased was injured on someone else’s premises, the ‘occupier’ of the premises may be responsible for his/her injuries and death. Generally, an ‘occupier’ is the person who has ‘control’ over the premises/land where the deceased was injured. S/he may be the owner of the property, a tenant, the local authority.
Under the Occupier’s Liability Act 1957, an occupier must take responsibility and care to ensure that ‘visitors’ to his premises/land are safe when on the premises/land. A person is a visitor if she/he had permission to be on the premises/land where she/he was injured.
Permission may be given expressly or alternatively, the deceased might have had permission if she/he:
(i) lived on the premises.
(ii) was a workman on the premises.
(iii) was a postman/milkman.
(iv) was selling/delivering something.
(v) was asking directions.
Because the occupier only has to take responsibility for a visitor’s safety, he may not be responsible for the deceased’s injury if:
(i) he gave a written or spoken warning about the danger.
(ii) there was a notice of some kind saying that the occupier would not be responsible.
But, if the occupier did not take responsibility to ensure the deceased’s safety whilst s/he was on his premises/land, you may be able to sue him on two counts.
1. First, for being careless/negligent.
2. Second, for failing to comply with the law, i.e. with the Occupier’s Liability Act 1957.
The two claims are very similar. In both instances, you must show that the deceased was injured/died because of something which the occupier did deliberately or failed to do. If the deceased would have been injured anyway with the neither of the above reasons being the cause, the occupier will not be responsible.
If the deceased was not a visitor, i.e. she/he had no permission to be on the premises/land, you may still have a claim against the occupier of the land/premises for which a specialist in legal advice is recommended.
You can only bring a claim on behalf of the deceased, and for losses which you suffer as a result of his/her death, if you fall within the categories mentioned below, and provided you satisfy a number of other conditions.
The categories of persons who can claim are:
(i) the deceased’s personal representative.
(ii) the deceased’s wife/husband or former wife/husband.
(iii) a person living as husband and wife with the deceased (with whom the deceased has been living for 2 years before she/he died).
(iv) parent/grandparent of the deceased or a person whom the deceased treated as his/her parent.
(v) the deceased’s child (including adopted children), grandchild or great-grandchild, or a child of a spouse of the deceased whom the deceased treated as his/her child.
(vi) brother, half-brother or step-brother, sister, half-sister or step-sister, uncle/aunt.
You will be able to recover compensation if you can prove that the occupier was responsible for :
(i) the deceased’s pain and suffering.
(ii) the deceased’s loss of earnings until death.
(iii) funeral and medical expenses.
(iv) care services provided to the deceased because of the injury.
(v) the certain financial loss you suffered as a result of the deceased’s death (e.g. loss of his/her future wages, pension etc.).
(vi) Bereavement (provided you fall within certain categories).
You may be able to claim interest on your compensation. But, your compensation may be reduced if the deceased was partly responsible for his/her injuries, e.g. s/he did not take enough care for his/her own safety or failed to comply with any obligations put by the law.