Who Can Bring a Compensation to Relatives Claim?

Mar 13, 2024 | Publication

In the unfortunate event of a loved one’s passing due to negligence or wrongful act, the Compensation to Relatives Act 1897 in New South Wales outlines the parameters for pursuing compensation on behalf of the deceased. Understanding who has the legal standing to initiate such claims is crucial for navigating the complexities of this legal process.

Executor or Administrator: The Primary Initiator

Section 4 of the Compensation to Relatives Act 1897 stipulates that the primary party authorised to commence and pursue a compensation claim is the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate. This individual is entrusted with the responsibility of representing the deceased’s interests and seeking redress for any losses suffered by the deceased’s relatives as a result of their passing.

Alternatives in Absence of Executor or Administrator

In situations where there is no appointed executor or administrator, or if the designated party fails to initiate legal action within six months of the deceased’s demise, Section 6B of the Act allows any eligible beneficiary to bring forth the claim. Eligible beneficiaries, as defined in Section 4, encompass a broad spectrum of familial relations, including the spouse, siblings, parents, and children of the deceased.

Eligibility Criteria for Damages

For an individual to be entitled to damages under the Compensation to Relatives Act 1897, they must demonstrate, on the balance of probabilities, that they have suffered financial loss or been deprived of personal services as a result of the deceased’s death. This requirement underscores the necessity of establishing a causal link between the negligent act or misconduct and the resultant harm suffered by the claimant.

Understanding “Spouse” in Legal Context

The Act defines “spouse” not only as the legally wedded partner but also encompasses de facto relationships. This expansive definition ensures that individuals in both formal marriages and domestic partnerships are afforded equal recognition and protection under the law.

Practical Considerations in Commencing Proceedings

In practice, it is customary for the executor or administrator, or another responsible family member, such as the deceased’s spouse, to initiate legal proceedings on behalf of all eligible beneficiaries. This approach streamlines the process and ensures that the interests of all affected parties are adequately represented during the course of litigation.

In conclusion, the Compensation to Relatives Act 1897 serves as a crucial legal framework for seeking recourse and justice on behalf of individuals who have suffered loss or harm due to the wrongful actions of others. By understanding the provisions outlined within the Act and the eligibility criteria for initiating compensation claims, individuals can navigate the legal landscape with clarity and confidence during times of distress and uncertainty.

The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this publication is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. We are not responsible for the information of any source to which a link is provided or reference is made and exclude all liability in connection with use of these sources. If you do not wish to receive newsletters from us, please let us know.

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