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CHAPTER F2 LAWS OF LAGOS STATE, 2015
FATAL ACCIDENTS LAW
ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS
1. Death by wrongful act, etc.
2. Limitation of action.
3. Particulars to be given by plaintiff.
4. Assessment of damages.
5. Damages on death by contributory negligence.
6. Payment into court.
7. Savings as to accrued rights.
FATAL ACCIDENTS LAW
A Law to provide for compensation for the Families of Persons killed in accidents.
[1961 No. 34.]
[1st March, 1963] [Commencement.]
1. Death by wrongful act, etc.
(1) Where after the coming into operation of this Law, the death of a person is caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the wrongful act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the person injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, the person who would have been liable if death had not ensued will be liable to an action for damages, notwithstanding the death of the person injured.
(2) Every action under this section shall be for the benefit of the members of the immediate family of the deceased person and will –
(a) if the deceased person was not subject to a system of customary law, be brought by and in the name of the executor or administrator of the deceased person; or
(b) if the deceased person was immediately before his death subject to a system of customary law relating to estate, be brought at the option of his immediate family, by and in the name of such person as the court is satisfied is under the customary law, entitled or empowered to represent the deceased person or his estate.
(3) If there is no executor or administrator, or where there is an executor or administrator but no action is brought by the executor or administrator within six months after the death of the deceased person, then action may be brought by and in the names of all or any of the persons for whose benefit the action would have been, if it had been brought by the executor or administrator; and every action brought shall be for the benefit of the same persons and be subject to the same regulations and procedure, as nearly as may be, as if it had been brought by an executor or administrator.
2. Limitation of action
(1) Every action under this Law must be commenced within three years (3) after the death of the deceased person, and not more than one award of damages will be made in respect of the same subject-matter.
(2) This section will have effect notwithstanding the provisions of the Public Officers Protection Law, but will not apply to any other case for which a special period of limitation for the commencement of any action is prescribed by any enactment in force in the State.
3. Particulars to be given by plaintiff
In every action under this Law, the plaintiff will give to the court full particulars of the persons for whom and on whose behalf the action is brought, and of the nature of the claim for damages.
4. Assessment of damages
(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the court may, in assessing and apportioning damages in an action brought under this Law, award such damages as it may think proportionate to the injury resulting from the death of the deceased person to the persons respectively for whom and for whose benefit such action is brought; and the amount so recovered, less the costs not recovered from the defendant, must be apportioned in such shares as the court directs amongst the persons entitled:
Provided that where the deceased person was, immediately before his death, subject to any system of customary law relating to estate, the court will have regard to the particular system of customary law, and decide which members (if any) of the immediate family of the deceased person are entitled to share in damages, and will apportion the shares amongst the persons entitled.
(2) The account will not be taken of any sums paid or payable on the death of the deceased person under any contract of assurance, and the award of damages may include reasonable funeral expenses of the deceased person incurred by the persons for whose benefit the action is brought.
5. Damages on death by contributory negligence
Where action is brought under this Law and the court is satisfied that death was the result partly of the fault of the deceased person and partly the fault of some other person, it will in assessing damages, take into account the provisions of any other enactment relating to liability in cases of contributory negligence, and the damages recoverable by the immediate family will in proper case be reduced to a proportionate extent.
6. Payment into court
(1) Where the defendant pays any money into court as compensation and to abide by the event, it will not be necessary for him to specify the shares into which the compensation is to be apportioned. If issue is joined as to its sufficiency, and the court considers the amount paid to be sufficient, the defendant will be entitled to judgment on that issue.
(2) If the amount of compensation is accepted, the plaintiff may apply by motion for an order apportioning the compensation; and the court in granting an application may invoke the provisions of section 7 of this Law and make the apportionment.
7. Saving as to accrued rights
Nothing in this Law will affect any rights which may have accrued to any person before the commencement of this Law.
(1) In this Law unless the context otherwise requires-
“administrator” includes a person appointed according to any system of customary law as representative of a deceased person or his estate;
“child” means a son or daughter and includes a grandson or granddaughter, and stepson or stepdaughter, of a deceased person and includes a child adopted before or after the coming into operation of this Law under any law as to adoption recognised in Nigeria;
“deceased person” means a person in respect of whom under this Law a cause of action survives his death;
(a) in relation to a deceased person not subject to a system of customary law, includes—
(i) the widow or widows, as the case may be;
(ii) the widower;
(iii) any parent; and
(iv) any child;
(b) in relation to a deceased person who was subject to a system of customary law not being Muslim Law, means in addition to any of the persons specified in paragraph (a) of this definition, surviving brothers and sisters of a deceased person, which expression includes stepbrothers and stepsisters;
(c) in relation to a deceased person who was subject to the system of customary law known as Muslim Law, means the person entitled to share in the award of diya prescribed by Muslim Law for involuntary homicide;
“parent” means the father or mother of the deceased person and includes any grandfather, grandmother, stepfather or stepmother;
“system of customary law” includes Muslim Law.
(2) For the purposes of this Law, a person is deemed to be the parent or child of the deceased person notwithstanding that the person was only related to the deceased illegitimately; and in deducing relationship under this section an illegitimate person will if acknowledged as his by the reputed father, be treated as the legitimate offspring of the mother and reputed father.
This Law will be cited as the Fatal Accidents Law.
No subsidiary legislation
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