Where a death occurs in negligence circumstances, the dependents of a person who has died can bring a claim against the wrong-doer. This is called a dependency claim and is a way to seek damages for the financial and non-financial contribution that someone made to their household which has been lost by reason of their death.
A person’s financial contribution to a household can include their income, superannuation contributions and in some circumstances pension benefits.
The law also recognises that damages should be awarded to dependents for the non-financial contribution such as domestic services and parental services that have been lost as a result of a death.
Domestic services include the household chores that the deceased was responsible for such as cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, gardening or car maintenance. This can also include any caring responsibilities such as to their parents or spouse.
The loss of parental services encompasses the contribution that the person who died made to caring for and raising their children.
Case study 1
Brave Legal currently represents a family (Person A and Person B) who lost a loved one, Person X, as a result of negligent medical treatment. Person X was the husband of Person A and the father to Person B who is three years old.
At the time of his death, Person X was a full-time homemaker and primary caregiver to Person B but was not making contributions financially to the household.
As a result of his death, Persons A and B have suffered a loss of non-financial contributions that Person X made to the household through domestic and parental services. As a result of his death, Person A will need to hire a cleaner, gardener and childcare services.
When preparing the dependency claim, we will obtain supportive documents including:
work with Person A to compile a comprehensive list of domestic services that Person X contributed to the household for the benefit of both Persons A and B; and
any receipts of out-of-pocket expenses Person A has spent on external commercial help such as cleaners or childcare services.
Case study 2
We recently spoke with a family about a dependency claim after they lost a loved one due to a fall in a public place (Person Y). Person Y was the mother of Person C (15 years old) and the daughter of Person D.
At the time of her death, Person Y was working part-time, the primary caregiver to Person C and the primary carer to Person D.
As a result of her death, Person C lost the benefit of Person Y’s financial contribution from her part-time job. Person C also suffered a loss of non-financial contributions that Person Y made to the household including both parental services and domestic services.
Person D was dependent on Person Y’s caregiving role and as a result of Person Y’s death, Person D will be required to hire a full-time nurse.
When preparing this dependency claim, we will obtain supportive documents including:
Person Y’s tax returns to demonstrate her income;
we would work with Person C to compile a comprehensive list of domestic services that Person Y contributed to the household;
we would work with Person D to compile a comprehensive list of domestic services that Person Y would assist with; and
any receipts of out-of-pocket expenses Persons C and D have spent on external commercial help such as nursing care.
Preparing a dependency claim
Although each claim is different, the following documents are critical when preparing a dependency claim:
Birth certificates of dependents;
Proof of relationship such as marriage certificate, bills in joint names etc;
Probate or proof of Next of Kin; and
Tax returns (for both the deceased and dependent if applicable).
We also recommend that a detailed list of services be compiled that outline the non-financial contribution the person who died made to their household.
In circumstances where a dependency claim involves more than one dependent or there are complexities with the deceased’s income, we often engage a forensic accountant to ensure that all contributions are properly calculated and that dependents receive the maximum entitlement possible to try and set them up, as best as possible, for the future.
Brave Legal has expertise in investigating, preparing and resolving claims on behalf of families who have lost a loved one as a result of negligent circumstances. We are available to discuss a potential nervous shock or dependency claim so please contact us directly on 03 9070 9816.