4 May 2020

Increase in Bereavement Damages

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (FAA), where a death has occurred as a result of negligence, the action can include a claim for bereavement damages. The level of the award has increased on 1 May 2020 to £15,210 from £12,980. The award is currently only available to the wife, husband or a civil partner of the deceased; and where the deceased was a minor who was never married or had a civil partner, to his or her parents, if he or she was legitimate; or to his or her mother, if illegitimate. The award does not extend to children who have lost parents although children can be awarded a sum for “loss of parental services”.

The government proposed to implement the judgment of the Court of Appeal in the case of Jacqueline Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust by amended Section 1A FAA to make Bereavement damages available to claimants who cohabited with the deceased person for a period of at least 2 years immediately prior to the death. The proposed remedial order also provides that in instances where both a qualifying cohabitant and a spouse is eligible (i.e. where the deceased was still married and not yet divorced or separated but had been in a new cohabiting relationship for at least 2 years) the award should be divided equally between the eligible claimants.

The proposal for the draft Order was made in May 2019 and it requires to be approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament before it becomes law. It has still not yet been approved. An update will be provided in due course.

Our Personal Injury solicitors are experienced in accident claims. If you have lost a wife or husband or civil partner or cohabitee as a result of somebody else’s negligence or breach of duty then please contact Julian Monk or Domini David in our Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence team today for a free preliminary telephone conversation or meeting.

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