Civil claims following a death in custody
If you have lost a loved one, making a claim for damages is probably very far from your mind. In some cases, such as if the person passed away in police or prison custody, you may have other legal processes to deal with like an independent investigation or a Coroner's Inquest.
Unfortunately, you may need to take steps relatively quickly to make sure that your case is not jeopardised. A good lawyer will be able to guide you through the necessary steps to protect your position. It's worth bearing in mind that the following types of claim might be relevant:
- A claim under the Equality Act 2010, if there is an element of discrimination. You will usually have to issue a claim within 6 months.
- A claim under the Human Rights Act for a breach of your or your family member's rights under the European Convention of Human Rights, for example a breach of Article 2, the right to life. This deadline is also quite short, as you will generally need to issue the claim at court within a year.
- A claim for misfeasance in public office or negligence may be relevant, depending on the circumstances.
- The Fatal Accidents Act allows dependants to make a claim in their own right for compensation to reflect the bereavement, funeral expenses, and the loss of the assistance that the loved one gave them (financial or otherwise). The bereavement damages element is very controversial, as it can only be paid to one of a very limited group of people (essentially, the spouse, civil partner, or parents, although the rules are slightly more complicated than this) and it is currently set at only £12,980.
- It is also worth noting that you may be able to pursue a claim on behalf of the person who has died using the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act. However, you should make sure that you are legally authorised to act on behalf of their estate in this way before doing this; your solicitor should be able to guide you in making these arrangements.
This is not an exhaustive list. It will be important to seek advice from a specialist solicitor if you think that you might want to make a claim like this. The value of your claim will depend on the circumstances of your case.
Civil Liberties, Inquests, and Civil Actions Against the Police Specialist Legal Advice
At Saunders Law, we offer expert legal assistance and representation in matters arising from deaths in state custody, including in Inquest proceedings and resulting civil claims. We appreciate that circumstances like these are exceptionally difficult and that everyone's experience is different, and we are used to adapting our service to make sure that it meets your needs.
All of our solicitors within the Civil Liberties and Actions against the Police Department have extensive experience in this area.
For a free, no-obligation, initial discussion to see if we might be able to help, please contact us today.