Lord Campbell’s Act. 1. The 1846 English statute that created a wrongful-death claim for the relatives of a decedent when the decedent would have had a claim if he or she had been merely injured and not killed. • Technically known as the Fatal Accidents Act of 1846, this statute changed the earlier rule, under which a tortfeasor who would have been liable to another escaped liability if the victim died. Cf. WRONGFUL-DEATH ACTION.
“The common law not only denied a tort recovery for injury once the tort victim had died, it also refused to recognize any new and independent cause of action in the victim’s dependents or heirs for their own loss at his death…. The result was that it was cheaper for the defendant to kill the plaintiff than to injure him, and that the most grievous of all injuries left the bereaved family of the victim, who frequently were destitute, without a remedy. Since this was intolerable, it was changed in England by the passage of the Fatal Accidents Act of 1846, otherwise known as Lord Campbell’s Act, which has become a generic name for similar statutes.” W. Page Keeton et al., Prosser and Keeton on the Law of Torts § 127, at 945 (5th ed. 1984).
2. An American state’s wrongful-death statute patterned after the original English act.
[Blacks Law 8th]