Death Benefits in a Car Accident
On Tuesday, a 51 year old woman was killed in a two car accident in Crookwell near Goulburn. The newspaper reports are short and say little other than there was a crash between two vehicles, one driven by the 51 year old travelling north and the other driven by a 70 year old travelling south. It is impossible to determine from those slim facts how the accident happened and who caused it.
The NSW Government regulates a scheme for the compensation of people injured or killed in motor accidents on our roads. The Government has been advertising recent changes to this compensation scheme, not by telling you about the benefits the scheme provides, but by trumpeting the reduction in price and the availability of a refund on last year’s Green Slip premiums.
When someone dies in a motor accident, the Green Slip insurer of the vehicle that caused the accident is obliged to pay the reasonable ‘funeral expenses’ of the person who died. What ‘funeral expenses’ means is not set out in the legislation. The Government’s SIRA website sets out what it considers to be funeral expenses as follows:
- funeral director’s professional fees
- cost of the funeral service (including cremation or burial)
- mourning car
- cemetery site
- newspaper notice
- death certificate
What is ‘reasonable’ will vary depending on things like the religion or cultural background of the deceased.
To make a claim for funeral expenses you download the form from the SIRA website, complete it and ring SIRA (1300 656 919) to find out where to send the form. A claim can be made for funeral expenses regardless of who caused the accident. In the case of the Crookwell car accident, the family of the 51 year old woman can make the claim against her own Green Slip insurer if she was the driver at-fault or against the Green Slip insurer of the 70 year old man’s Green Slip insurer if he was at fault.
If the person who died lived interstate or overseas, the Green Slip Insurer is also obliged to pay the cost of transporting the deceased’s body interstate or overseas for burial in their home state or country if that is the wish of the family. Making this claim is not easy as there is limited information on the SIRA website about it and there is no form to fill in to make that claim.
If the person who died was not at fault in causing the accident, the family can claim the cost of a headstone or memorial and the ‘dependents’ of the deceased may be able to make a claim for common law damages for the cost of replacing the deceased services and for the loss of financial support.
If someone who witnesses the accident or a close family member of the deceased suffer a psychiatric injury as a result of the death (e.g. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder), they may be able to claim the cost of their treatment and lost income from the Green Slip insurer of the vehicle that caused the accident.
When someone dies in a car accident it is a time of immense grief and what follows for the family is an enormous period of adjustment.
If you or anyone you know has been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information, and to arrange a free, no-obligation assessment of your claim, please call Stacks Goudkamp on 1800 25 1800, or alternatively make an online enquiry.
Written by Tom Goudkamp.