Things to consider if you've lost a loved one in a road traffic accident
According to the Department for Transport, 1,782 people were killed on Britain’s roads in 2018 – only 11 fewer than the year before – and there has been little real change in the annual number of deaths since 2010. While great progress has been made in London with the ‘Vision Zero’ initiative intended to put an end to road deaths in the capital – which has already seen road deaths reach its lowest total at 110 - there are no other targets elsewhere in the UK. We echo the calls from road safety charity, RoadPeace, for the Department for Transport to implement Vision Zero across the country.
Every death in a family has a devastating effect on the loved ones left behind, but this can be magnified and prolonged when someone disappears from your life as a result of a road traffic accident. The family will also end up embroiled in criminal and other investigatory processes, which may feel lengthy, complicated and only add to their grief.
In any road death, the police will have to complete a thorough investigation, which may lead to a prosecution or an inquest. This is an important process but it can be a lengthy one – potentially months – and can delay the funeral taking place. This is undoubtedly frustrating for families who want to start to move on and start to ‘accept’ what has happened, but fortunately there is emotional and practical support available for people going through this.
Family Liaison Officers will ease a family through this tough time, providing emotional support and practical guidance for them while investigating the cause of the incident.
Help and support
RoadPeace has a helpline to guide people through the post-crash process, as well as a number of digital guides that provide an overview of road death investigations, inquests and sentencing.
This can include explaining what stage they are at, why certain practices occur (such as a port mortem examination) and preparing them for an inquest or court hearing. While there is no specific law on statutory bereavement leave, a good employer will provide you with adequate time off to manage your grief, and, if you are a member of a union, a local representative can also provide information about support networks and access to legal advice.
Accessing legal support
It is important to obtain specialist legal advice as quickly as possible. A family may have lost a large part of the household income and the sooner a compensation claim can be made against the driver, the sooner an interim (up-front) payment can be secured for the family, which can ease immediate financial worries. Vital witness evidence needs to be obtained while it is still fresh in people’s minds and representation can be provided to the family at the inquest if there is no criminal prosecution of the driver. Lawyers can also help with obtaining probate, manging the person’s will or advising what happens if there isn’t one.
For more information about the legal support you may be entitled to, contact our friendly team on 0800 0 224 224 for free legal advice. Alternatively, complete our online claim form to start a fatal road accident claim.