Where the defendant's (here the MOD) tort has caused the death of a breadwinner, the Fatal Accident's Act 1976 allows damages to be awarded to 'dependants' of the deceased for loss of the financial support during what would have been the remainder of his working life.
The aim is to give the dependants the sum of money which will allow them material benefits: Mallett v McMonagle  AC 166, of the same standard for the same period of time as the deceased would have provided had he lived for his normal expectation of life.
Section 1(3) of the 1976 Act, as amended by section 3 of the Administration of Justice Act 1982 defines dependants. The main categories are the wife or husband of the deceased; any parent or other ascendants and any child or other descendants. The list also includes former or de facto spouses; persons treated as a parent, or as a child of the family; illegitimate children, step-children and certain relationships by affinity.
Section 5 of the 1976 Act has the effect of reducing the damages for the dependant where contributory negligence is found on the part of the deceased.
A fatal accident claim is restricted to the financial loss of the dependants, which will always be less than the deceased's loss of earnings. The proof of loss of future financial support from the deceased is usually b y showing actual dependence in the past.
I apologise if this post is a bit legalistic and long-winded for some but I thought it might go some way towards providing an explanation as to what is taken into account by the court in such cases.
It is my understanding that in this particular case, the financial award is to be shared among several of the deceased's relatives.
"Family of nerve gas victim win compensation
LONDON (Reuters) - The family of a British soldier who died over 50 years ago after taking part in a deadly nerve gas experiment have finally won compensation for his death.
Ronald Maddison died after having droplets of the lethal agent sarin dabbed on his arm at a chemical warfare laboratory in southern England in 1953. He was just 20 years old.
The government at the time, led by Winston Churchill, ordered an inquest into the death which concluded he had died due to misadventure.
Maddison's family have campaigned against the verdict for years and in 2004 won a ruling from a coroner's court which said the Royal Air Force man was a victim of "unlawful killing".
The Ministry of Defence confirmed on Friday it had agreed to accept that verdict and pay compensation.
"We very much regret the unfortunate death of Ronald Maddison," an MoD spokesman said. "We are delighted that an amicable settlement has been reached with his family."
It declined to confirm reports of a pay-out of 100,000 pounds."