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In 2018 80 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in South Australia. Whilst the rate of deaths is slowly decreasing with improvements in technology and safety features in vehicles, it is still alarmingly high. These accidents have a devastating impact upon the families and communities involved.

When a person is killed in a motor vehicle accident caused by the fault of another driver, the family of the deceased may be entitled to make a claim for compensation.

This claim is usually made by the parent, children and/ or spouse of the person killed. The losses a family member may be able to claim for include the following things:

  • Solatium (compensation for suffering and grief);
  • Loss of financial dependency (lost income);
  • Loss of services (help around the home and garden);
  • Loss of nurturing and support;
  • Funeral and any medical expenses incurred

When a child is killed in a motor vehicle accident, the parents may be entitled to make a claim for solatium, which in South Australia is limited to an amount of $10,000, and for funeral or any medical expenses incurred. It is common for parents or siblings to suffer a psychological reaction as a result of the death. If this occurs, the person suffering may also be entitled to make a claim for a type of personal injury, often referred to as a nervous shock claim. They may then be entitled to claim for pain and suffering, psychological treatment, medical expenses and economic loss.

If it is a spouse and/or parent is killed in an accident, the surviving spouse or family may be entitled to claim for the income that person would have earned. A spouse is able to make a claim for solatium. Children can make a claim for the loss of nurturing and guidance that their parent would have provided them. The family (the remaining parent and children) can also make a claim for the assistance the deceased would have provided around the home and garden and the cost of paying someone else to provide this assistance.

Once again, it is quite common in these situations for the family members to also suffer a psychological reaction to the death. In those situations a person may also be able to make a claim for nervous shock, which may include funding and compensation for psychological treatment, pain and suffering, lost income and medical expenses.

This is a complicated area of the law as each situation is different and therefore, the amount of compensation the family may be entitled to will vary from case to case. It is important that families in these situations consult with a lawyer who specialises in this area to ensure that they are receiving the financial support that they are entitled to.

The impact of losing a family member in such a traumatic situation can be devastating and no amount of compensation can change that. However, compensation can help lessen the financial impact, ensuring families can continue living in their homes, children can stay at the same schools and the family can receive practical assistance around the home and garden while they grieve and adjust.

Mellor Olsson have a team of personal injury lawyers who are experienced in handling dependency and nervous shock claims. If you, or someone you know, has been involved in a car accident which resulted in a death and you think there could potentially be a claim, please call us on 8414 3400.