The State Claims Agency manages personal injury claims, including fatality claims, on behalf of 146 State Authorities, as delegated to it by the National Treasury Management Agency (Amendment) Act 2000 and subsequent delegation orders.
I have been informed by the Agency that in fatal injuries cases damages may be awarded under 3 headings:
1. loss of pecuniary benefits which could have been reasonably expected but for the wrongful act of the defendant;
2. reasonable compensation for mental distress to the dependents of someone who has been fatally injured; and
3. funeral and other expenses actually incurred by reason of the death.
Whether a person has a disability or not has no bearing on the amount of compensation payable under (1), which is determined by multiple factors including whether a person leaves dependants, whether they were working or contributing to the family in some way. Each case is decided on its own facts.
In relation to (2) above, the damages paid to the statutory dependants of a deceased person in a wrongful death case is known as solatium. Since January 2014, the maximum amount that can be awarded is set by statute in the sum of €35,000. Prior to this, the figure was capped at €25,394.76. This limit applies to the statutory dependants of all deceased persons, regardless of the deceased’s ability/disability.
In determining the amount of compensation under (3), ability/disability is not considered and has no relevance.