The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) have called for the fixed bereavement rates in England and Scotland to be abolished or at least increased. The current fixed pay out for bereavements is £12,980 without the merits of individual cases being taken into account. APIL are hoping that the new regulations and standards would align with those that are currently operating in Scotland where individual merits are taken into account and pay outs are often much higher.
The association undertook extensive research and received overwhelming support for changes in regulations with more than 80% of respondents believing that a meritorious approach would be far preferable. Furthermore, 57% of the 2,000 people interviewed suggested that a pay out figure closer to £100,000 would be more appropriate.
One of the current features of bereavement compensation regulations that attracted the most criticism was the restricted parties entitled to receive the payment. Currently, the parents of children of a certain age are not automatically entitled to compensation and neither are the co-habitees of the deceased or fiancés/fiancées. Many of the people who completed the research suggested such parties should receive improved bereavement rights.
APIL president Matthew Stockwell revealed his agreement with many of the research results.
“In Scotland, cases are taken on their merits, damages are generally higher, and the law is much more flexible about who can receive them,” said Stockwell. “‘None of these people are eligible for bereavement damages in England and Wales, while most of them are entitled to claim damages in Scotland.
“It is particularly distasteful to me that parents of a child under the age of 18 should be entitled to bereavement damages but, once the child is 18, they are not. It is unnatural for a parent to suffer the loss of a child, and that loss is no less if the child happens to be over the age of 18.”
The Ministry of Justice only increased this pay out amount in March this year from £11,800 as part of an update to the 1976 Fatal Accidents Act.
APIL will be hoping that a fairer method of compensating the bereaved will help cover the costs that the affected parties may have incurred including funeral costs and any medical bills that may have come as a result. As well as a sentimental loss, a bereavement at a particularly inopportune time may be an incredibly significant financial loss.
About the Author: Walker Prestons are a team of solicitors specialising in personal injury law and helping people receive the compensation that they deserve.